[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Syphilis affects 1.4 million pregnant women globally each year. Maternal syphilis causes congenital syphilis in over half of affected pregnancies, leading to early foetal loss, pregnancy complications, stillbirth and neonatal death. Syphilis is under-diagnosed in pregnant women. Point-of-care rapid syphilis tests (RST) allow for same-day treatment and address logistical barriers to testing encountered with standard Rapid Plasma Reagin testing. Recent literature emphasises successful introduction of new health technologies requires healthcare worker (HCW) acceptance, effective training, quality monitoring and robust health systems. Following a successful pilot, the Zambian Ministry of Health (MoH) adopted RST into policy, integrating them into prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV clinics in four underserved Zambian districts. We compare HCW experiences, including challenges encountered in scaling up from a highly supported NGO-led pilot to a large-scale MoH-led national programme. Questionnaires were administered through structured interviews of 16 HCWs in two pilot districts and 24 HCWs in two different rollout districts. Supplementary data were gathered via stakeholder interviews, clinic registers and supervisory visits. Using a conceptual framework adapted from health technology literature, we explored RST acceptance and usability. Quantitative data were analysed using descriptive statistics. Key themes in qualitative data were explored using template analysis. Overall, HCWs accepted RST as learnable, suitable, effective tools to improve antenatal services, which were usable in diverse clinical settings. Changes in training, supervision and quality monitoring models between pilot and rollout may have influenced rollout HCW acceptance and compromised testing quality. While quality monitoring was integrated into national policy and training, implementation was limited during rollout despite financial support and mentorship. We illustrate that new health technology pilot research can rapidly translate into policy change and scale-up. However, training, supervision and quality assurance models should be reviewed and strengthened as rollout of the Zambian RST programme continues.
PLoS ONE 06/2015; 10(6):e0127728. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0127728 · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Maternal syphilis results in an estimated 500,000 stillbirths and neonatal deaths annually in Sub-Saharan Africa. Despite the existence of national guidelines for antenatal syphilis screening, syphilis testing is often limited by inadequate laboratory and staff services. Recent availability of inexpensive rapid point-of-care syphilis tests (RST) can improve access to antenatal syphilis screening. A 2010 pilot in Zambia explored the feasibility of integrating RST within prevention of mother-to-child-transmission of HIV services. Following successful demonstration, the Zambian Ministry of Health adopted RSTs into national policy in 2011. Cost data from the pilot and 2012 preliminary national rollout were extracted from project records, antenatal registers, clinic staff interviews, and facility observations, with the aim of assessing the cost and quality implications of scaling up a successful pilot into a national rollout. Start-up, capital, and recurrent cost inputs were collected, including costs of extensive supervision and quality monitoring during the pilot. Costs were analysed from a provider's perspective, incremental to existing antenatal services. Total and unit costs were calculated and a multivariate sensitivity analysis was performed. Our accompanying qualitative study by Ansbro et al. (2015) elucidated quality assurance and supervisory system challenges experienced during rollout, which helped explain key cost drivers. The average unit cost per woman screened during rollout ($11.16) was more than triple the pilot unit cost ($3.19). While quality assurance costs were much lower during rollout, the increased unit costs can be attributed to several factors, including higher RST prices and lower RST coverage during rollout, which reduced economies of scale. Pilot and rollout cost drivers differed due to implementation decisions related to training, supervision, and quality assurance. This study explored the cost of integrating RST into antenatal care in pilot and national rollout settings, and highlighted important differences in costs that may be observed when moving from pilot to scale-up.
PLoS ONE 05/2015; 10(5):e0125675. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0125675 · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Measurement of CD4+ T-lymphocytes (CD4) is a crucial parameter in the management of HIV patients, particularly in determining eligibility to initiate antiretroviral treatment (ART). A number of technologies exist for CD4 enumeration, with considerable variation in cost, complexity, and operational requirements. We conducted a systematic review of the performance of technologies for CD4 enumeration.
Studies were identified by searching electronic databases MEDLINE and EMBASE using a pre-defined search strategy. Data on test accuracy and precision included bias and limits of agreement with a reference standard, and misclassification probabilities around CD4 thresholds of 200 and 350 cells/μl over a clinically relevant range. The secondary outcome measure was test imprecision, expressed as % coefficient of variation. Thirty-two studies evaluating 15 CD4 technologies were included, of which less than half presented data on bias and misclassification compared to the same reference technology. At CD4 counts <350 cells/μl, bias ranged from -35.2 to +13.1 cells/μl while at counts >350 cells/μl, bias ranged from -70.7 to +47 cells/μl, compared to the BD FACSCount as a reference technology. Misclassification around the threshold of 350 cells/μl ranged from 1-29% for upward classification, resulting in under-treatment, and 7-68% for downward classification resulting in overtreatment. Less than half of these studies reported within laboratory precision or reproducibility of the CD4 values obtained.
A wide range of bias and percent misclassification around treatment thresholds were reported on the CD4 enumeration technologies included in this review, with few studies reporting assay precision. The lack of standardised methodology on test evaluation, including the use of different reference standards, is a barrier to assessing relative assay performance and could hinder the introduction of new point-of-care assays in countries where they are most needed.
PLoS ONE 03/2015; 10(3):e0115019. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0115019 · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BackgroundUNAIDS has called for greater HIV/syphilis testing worldwide just as local HIV/syphilis testing programs are cut or altered. New models are needed to make HIV/syphilis testing services sustainable while retaining their essential public health function. Social entrepreneurship, using business principles to promote a social cause, provides a framework to pilot programs that sustainably expand testing. Drawing on fieldwork in two South Chinese cities, we examined organizational and financial characteristics of current HIV/syphilis testing systems for men who have sex with men (MSM) in addition to new pilot programs focused on revenue-generation for sustainability.Methods
We undertook a qualitative study to explore organizational and financial characteristics of HIV/syphilis testing for MSM. Data were collected from men who have sex with men and policy stakeholders in Guangzhou and Hong Kong. Framework analysis was used to identify themes and then code the data.ResultsOur qualitative research study included MSM and policy stakeholders (n¿=¿84). HIV/syphilis testing services were implemented at a wide range of organizations which we grouped broadly as independent community-based organizations (CBOs), independent clinics, and hybrid CBO-clinic sites. From an organizational perspective, hybrid CBO-clinic sites offered the inclusive environment of an MSM CBO linked to the technical capacity and trained staff of a clinic. From a financial perspective, stakeholders expressed concern about the sustainability and effectiveness of sexual health services reliant on external funding. We identified four hybrid CBO-clinic organizations that launched pilot testing programs in order to generate revenue while expanding HIV testing.Conclusion
Many MSM CBOs are searching for new organizational models to account for decreased external support. Hybrid CBO-clinic organizations create a strong foundation to increase HIV/syphilis testing using social entrepreneurship models in China.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background
Medical devices and in vitro diagnostic tests (IVD) are vital components of health delivery systems but access to these important tools is often limited in Africa. The regulation of health commodities by National Regulatory Authorities is intended to ensure their safety and quality whilst ensuring timely access to beneficial new products. Streamlining and harmonizing regulatory processes may reduce delays and unnecessary expense and improve access to new products. Whereas pharmaceutical products are widely regulated less attention has been placed on the regulation of other health products. A study was undertaken to assess regulation of medical diagnostics and medical devices across Partner States of the East African Community (EAC).Methods
Data was collected during October 2012 through desk based review of documents and field research, including face to face interviews with the assistance of a structured questionnaire with closed and open ended questions. Key areas addressed were (i) existence and role of National Regulatory Authorities; (ii) policy and legal framework for regulation; (iii) premarket control; (iv) marketing controls; (v) post-marketing control and vigilance; (vi) country capacity for regulation; (vii) country capacity for evaluation studies for IVD and (viii) priorities and capacity building for harmonization in EAC Partner States.ResultsControl of medical devices and IVDs in EAC Partner States is largely confined to national disease programmes such as tuberculosis, HIV and malaria. National Regulatory Authorities for pharmaceutical products do not have the capacity to regulate medical devices and in some countries laboratory based organisations are mandated to ensure quality of products used. Some activities to evaluate IVDs are performed in research laboratories but post market surveillance is rare. Training in key areas is considered essential to strengthening regulatory capacity for IVDs and other medical devices.Conclusions
Regulation of medical devices and in vitro diagnostics has been neglected in EAC Partner States. Regulation is weak across the region, and although the majority of States have a legal mandate to regulate medical devices there is limited capacity to do so. Streamlining regulation in the EAC is seen as a positive aspiration with diagnostic tests considered a priority area for harmonisation.
BMC Health Services Research 10/2014; 14(1):524. DOI:10.1186/s12913-014-0524-2 · 1.66 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objective Home-based, voluntary counselling and testing (HBCT) can help scale up early diagnosis. We aimed to evaluate the acceptance of HBCT for HIV and syphilis, estimate the prevalence among home-tested individuals and assess the performance of point-of-care testing by health staff using dried tube specimens (DTS) in a remote municipality of the Amazon region. Methods Community health teams conducted door-to-door outreach in the urban area of Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira, Amazonas. HBCT for HIV and syphilis was offered to all residents aged >= 15 years. To provide an external quality assurance (EQA) of the healthcare workers' (HCW') ability to perform testing, DTS panels of reference samples were reconstituted and tested by the workers. Results HBCT was offered to 1752 individuals and accepted by 1501 (85.6%). Those tested had a median age 32.0 years, 64.4% were women and 85.1% were indigenous; none were previously tested using a rapid test. The prevalence of HIV was 0.37% in men and 0.0% in women; the prevalence of syphilis was 1.12% in men and 2.69% in women. Eleven HCW tested 44 DTS samples for HIV and 44 for syphilis. EQA testing revealed that workers interpreted 55.8% and 90.7% of HIV and syphilis reference samples correctly. Conclusions HBCT was acceptable and successful in reaching untested individuals. However, there were concerns with the quality of test performance, highlighting the need for continual evaluation and retraining of community HCW. As Brazil scales up HIV and syphilis testing, our findings highlight how HBCT can maximise coverage in similar remote areas and improve knowledge about prevalence of these infections.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Commercially available diagnostic test kits for detection of dengue virus (DENV) non-structural protein 1 (NS1) and anti-DENV IgM were evaluated for their sensitivity and specificity and other performance characteristics by a diagnostic laboratory network developed by World Health Organization (WHO), the UNICEF/UNDP/World Bank/WHO Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR) and the Pediatric Dengue Vaccine Initiative (PDVI). Each network laboratory contributed characterized serum specimens for the panels used in the evaluation. Microplate enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and rapid diagnostic test (RDT formats) were represented by the kits. Each ELISA was evaluated by 2 laboratories and RDTs were evaluated by at least 3 laboratories. The reference tests for IgM anti-DENV were laboratory developed assays produced by the Armed Forces Research Institute for Medical Science (AFRIMS) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the NS1 reference test was reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Results were analyzed to determine sensitivity, specificity, inter-laboratory and inter-reader agreement, lot-to-lot variation and ease-of-use. NS1 ELISA sensitivity was 60-75% and specificity 71-80%; NS1 RDT sensitivity was 38-71% and specificity 76-80%; the IgM anti-DENV RDTs sensitivity was 30-96%, with a specificity of 86-92%, and IgM anti-DENV ELISA sensitivity was 96-98% and specificity 78-91%. NS1 tests were generally more sensitive in specimens from the acute phase of dengue and in primary DENV infection, whereas IgM anti-DENV tests were less sensitive in secondary DENV infections. The reproducibility of the NS1 RDTs ranged from 92-99% and the IgM anti-DENV RDTs from 88-94%.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: SUMMARY Practical diagnostic tools of sufficient sensitivity to detect levels of infection that can lead to transmission have been identified as a critical component of successful disease elimination programmes. In this review we describe the diagnostic tests currently available for six neglected tropical diseases that have been targeted for elimination; assess their performance in the light of the requirements for surveillance, certification of elimination and post-elimination surveillance; consider the unmet need for diagnostic tests for these diseases; and review recent technical developments that could meet these needs.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: HIV self-testing (HIVST) is an emerging HIV testing strategy intended to address challenges of increasing access to preliminary knowledge of serostatus. It offers the potential for tests and testing to reach more people than previously possible, including those who do not seek testing in facilities. With approval of an HIV self-test kit in the USA, increasing evidence from public pilot programs in sub-Saharan Africa showing high acceptability and feasibility, and evidence of the informal sale of rapid HIV test kits in the private sector, options for individuals to access HIV self-testing, as well as consumer-demand, appear to be increasing. More recently WHO and UNAIDS have explored self-testing as an option to achieving greater HIV testing coverage to support global treatment targets. However, for resource-limited settings, technological development, diagnostic device regulation and quality assurance policies are lagging behind. This commentary will examine regulatory and policy issues with HIVST, given its increased prominence as a potential part of the global HIV/AIDS response.
AIDS and Behavior 06/2014; 18(S4). DOI:10.1007/s10461-014-0825-9 · 3.49 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Emerging molecular technologies to diagnose infectious diseases at the point at which care is delivered have the potential to save many lives in developing countries where access to laboratories is poor. Molecular tests are needed to improve the specificity of syndromic management, monitor progress towards disease elimination and screen for asymptomatic infections with the goal of interrupting disease transmission and preventing long-term sequelae. In simplifying laboratory-based molecular assays for use at point-of-care, there are inevitable compromises between cost, ease of use and test performance. Despite significant technological advances, many challenges remain for the development of molecular diagnostics for resource-limited settings. There needs to be more advocacy for these technologies to be applied to infectious diseases, increased efforts to lower the barriers to market entry through streamlined and harmonized regulatory approaches, faster policy development for adoption of new technologies and novel financing mechanisms to enable countries to scale up implementation.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dried blood spots (DBS) have been used as alternative specimens to plasma to increase access to HIV viral load (VL) monitoring and early infant diagnosis (EID) in remote settings. We systematically reviewed evidence on the performance of DBS compared to plasma for VL monitoring and EID.
Thirteen peer reviewed HIV VL publications and five HIV EID papers were included. Depending on the technology and the viral load distribution in the study population, the percentage of DBS samples that are within 0.5 log of VL in plasma ranged from 52-100%. Because the input sample volume is much smaller in a blood spot, there is a risk of false negatives with DBS. Sensitivity of DBS VL was found to be 78-100% compared to plasma at VL below 1000 copies/ml, but this increased to 100% at a threshold of 5000 copies/ml. Unlike a plasma VL test which measures only cell free HIV RNA, a DBS VL also measures proviral DNA as well as cell-associated RNA, potentially leading to false positive results when using DBS. The systematic review showed that specificity was close to 100% at DBS VL above 5000 copies/ml, and this threshold would be the most reliable for predicting true virologic failure using DBS. For early infant diagnosis, DBS has a sensitivity of 100% compared to fresh whole blood or plasma in all studies.
Although limited data are available for EID, DBS offer a highly sensitive and specific sampling strategy to make viral load monitoring and early infant diagnosis more accessible in remote settings. A standardized approach for sampling, storing, and processing DBS samples would be essential to allow successful implementation.
PROSPERO Registration #: CRD42013003621.
PLoS ONE 03/2014; 9(3):e86461. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0086461 · 3.53 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The objective of this review was to examine different monitoring strategies (clinical, immunologic (CD4 T cell count measurement) and virologic (viral load measurement)) to inform revision of the 2013 WHO guidelines for antiretroviral therapy (ART) in low and middle-income countries.