Evaluation of the PIMA Point-of-Care CD4 Analyzer in VCT Clinics in Zimbabwe

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Point-of-care (POC) CD4 testing was implemented at a stand-alone HIV voluntary testing and counseling centre in Harare, Zimbabwe. To validate the use of this new technology, paired blood samples were collected from 165 patients either by a nurse or a laboratory technician and tested using POC and conventional laboratory CD4 machines. Finger prick (capillary) blood was collected directly into the PIMA POC CD4 Analyzer cartridges and tested immediately, whereas venous blood collected into evacuated tubes was used for CD4 enumeration on a Becton Dickinson FACSCalibur. There was no significant difference in mean absolute CD4 counts between the POC PIMA and Becton Dickinson FACSCalibur platforms (+7.6 cells/μL; P = 0.72). Additionally, there was no significant difference in CD4 counts between the platforms when run by either a nurse (+18.0 cells/μL; P = 0.49), or a laboratory technicians (−3.1 cells/μL; P = 0.93). This study demonstrates that POC CD4 testing can be conducted in a voluntary testing and counseling setting for staging HIV-positive clients. Both nurses and laboratory technicians performed the test accurately, thereby increasing the human resources available for POC CD4 testing. By producing same-day results, POC CD4 facilitates immediate decision-making, patient management and referral and may help improve patient care and retention. POC CD4 may also alleviate testing burdens at traditional central CD4 laboratories, hence improving test access in both rural and urban environments.

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