Patients, platforms & politics in HIV viral load program in sub-Saharan Africa


Today, March 1, 11, at Bio2Device Group (www.bio2devicegroup.org), Dr. Sam Rose, Rose Consulting, presented on HIV viral load program in Sub-Saharan Africa.  Dr. Rose has 14 years of industry experience and most recently served as Director of Scientific Affairs at Rosche, where he managed initiatives supporting HIV viral load program in less developed nations.  His talk centered around integrating three themes in patient treatment – that of patients, platform, and politics.

HIV pandemic continues in sub-Saharan Africa though most recently there has been some progress.  AIDS related deaths have decreased somewhat on account of evolution of anti-retroviral therapy.  However, for substantial change, there needs to be availability of speedy, effective diagnostic tests.  There are many challenges to get right technology that include maintaining blood samples and reagents in hot and humid climate and finding less costly and more affordable tests.  Additionally, there are challenges of tracking patient population.  Lately however, technology has advanced in significant ways which has even made it possible for instance to do HIV testing from a single drop of dry blood.  Advances in speed, affordability and efficacy within hot climate come at the expense of high sensitivity.  Extremely high sensitivity standards common in HIV testing in the West are unrealistic in Sub-Saharan Africa, given the logistical challenges. But that is where the politics kicks in.  The leaders refuse to allow tests that may be considered sub-standard in the west.  One of the solutions proposed by Dr. Rose was to get local clinicians from these countries involved in all stages of development and use of the tests.  The presumption is that when they own the solution then they will be more likely to implement a program beneficial to the population then when they see it as being imposed from the west and of a lesser quality than what may be used in the west.  The talk was followed by interactive session of Q&A.

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