The FINANCIAL — Roche announced today that it has been awarded an exclusive contract by the National Health Laboratory Services (NHLS) in South Africa for the support of the Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) Programme.
Roche will deliver diagnostics to support the largest infant testing initiative in the world that aims to identify HIV-infected children during the first months of life. Infants can be tested with Roche’s diagnostics using the Dried Blood Sampling (DBS) technique, with which a spot of blood is preserved on filter paper and then sent to a testing centre. This technique is less stressful for the mother and the child, eliminates the need for refrigeration and drastically reduces the volume of blood to be stored or transported.
This marks a further step in over a decade of partnership between Roche, the NHLS and key stakeholders who have been the pioneers of Early Infant Testing in Africa and remain committed to providing workable solutions to the unique challenges of expanding EID testing.
“We are proud of the work achieved in partnership with the NHLS in helping diagnose infants born from HIV-positive mothers. The ability to determine the HIV status of an infant as early as six weeks is crucial to determining the appropriate care and support for these HIV-positive children” said Daniel O’Day, COO Roche Diagnostics “With EID and other programmes, we reiterate our commitment to healthcare solutions which make a real difference to children in South Africa.”
Early diagnosis is critical for children infected with HIV. If found HIV positive, they can receive appropriate medical care before they develop significant illness, and can remain healthy despite their infection. If found HIV negative, they can get appropriate counseling to ensure an HIV-free status. Diagnosing HIV in infants and young children is a major challenge. Antibody tests are ineffective in children because the mother’s antibodies remain in the child’s system from birth. In fact, antibody tests in infants may yield false positive results for up to 15 months. There are a number of alternate methods available for early diagnosis of HIV-infected infants. Many approaches use molecular techniques, specifically detecting the viral DNA and/or RNA, which enables HIV diagnosis as early as six weeks.