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Lab revitalization to improve HIV viral load & early infant diagnosis testing in Lesotho
In a ceremony held at the Mafeteng Hospital in Mafeteng, Lesotho, officials from the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and the Kingdom of Lesotho’s Ministry of Health (MoH) announced the opening of the hospital’s newly renovated molecular diagnostic laboratory (watch SABC coverage of the ceremony).
The revitalized hospital laboratory now has the capacity to receive and analyze viral load and early infant diagnosis (EID) samples from Lesotho’s Mafeteng, Mohale’s Hoek, and Quthing districts. The improvements increase the capacity to diagnose HIV in Lesotho and contribute to the MoH’s ability to implement their newly launched “Test and Treat” strategy, which recommends that anyone infected with HIV should begin treatment as soon after diagnosis as possible.
"Since it began functioning in July, the laboratory has provided viral load monitoring for more than 1,000 people on ART. Going forward, the laboratory will play a crucial role in increasing adherence to ART and guiding adjustments of treatment regimens when needed. I was pleased to learn that this lab will soon begin screening infants for HIV, which will double the national capacity for such screening."
--US Ambassador Matthew T. Harrington
University Research Co., LLC (URC), through funding from PEPFAR, provided over US$100,000 in renovations and diagnostic equipment to the new lab. The improvements include a cold room with capacity to hold up to six months’ stock of the reagents which are essential to the viral load testing process and which must be kept at a consistent and cool temperature to be effective. With this support, it is estimated that some 38,000 to 40,000 viral load tests will be processed on an annual basis at this facility, significantly improving access to HIV care and treatment in the country.
The renovation and commissioning of the Mafeteng Hospital molecular diagnostic laboratory is an example of the successful partnership among multiple local and international entities, including Lesotho’s Ministry of Health, the United States government through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and PEPFAR, and URC.
Mafeteng is the first lab to be completed by this same partnership as part of the Strengthening Laboratory Diagnosis and Monitoring to Scale Up and Improve HIV/AIDS Care and Treatment Services in the Kingdom of Lesotho project. Awarded to URC in 2015 by the CDC, the cooperative agreement will build laboratory capacity and improve the provision of HIV, tuberculosis and sexually transmitted/opportunistic infections diagnostic services and disease monitoring that are essential for scaling up HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment in the country.
For more information, please contact URC.
September 15, 2016