A new and simple test could be a major improvement for HIV patients in less-developed countries. The test uses dried blood to assess a patient's response to HIV medication.
HIV patients are often put on antiretroviral therapy. This treatment is now becoming available in Africa. While on the medication, tests to determine the CD4 cell count are needed. A low CD4 cell count indicates a need for more intensive treatment while a high CD4 cell count indicates reasonable immune function. In less developed countries, such a test is not available in areas where there is not a lab to perform it. The tests are also expensive. Now, researchers from London and Zambia have a new and promising test that would be easy to do in less developed areas.
For the research, investigators obtained blood from 42 HIV infected patients. Blood spots were dried on filter paper and CD4 cell counts were measured. Researchers then compared the results of these measurements with those obtained using the gold standard for CD4 assessment.
Researchers say the filter-paper method compared well with the standard method. Investigators say, based on this study, the dried blood stored on filter paper may be a field-friendly alternative for CD4 cell count assessment. Study author Alimuddin Zumla from University College London, says: "Our results are very encouraging as they point the way towards making cheap CD4 count testing available to people receiving antiretroviral therapy in rural areas. Such methods could be used in a similar way towards HIV viral-load measurement, another test required to assess the success of HIV treatment."