Rapid CD4 Testing Helps Baby Paul Receive Needed Care

 {Photo credit: Aurélie Jousset/MSH}Joseph Borgelain inserts the cartridge into the PIMA machine to perform a rapid CD4 test for Paul.Photo credit: Aurélie Jousset/MSH

Two-year-old Paul had been sick for several days. On October 12, 2013, his aunt Marie brought him to the Jules Fleury Hospital in the Nippes department of Haiti. Two weeks prior, Paul’s mother, who is HIV-positive, had left for Port-au-Prince in search of work, leaving Paul in the care of his aunt.

When Paul and his aunt arrived at the hospital, a nurse conducted a routine medical check-up. After learning of his mother’s HIV status, she immediately referred Paul for an HIV test, which was positive. Concerned about Paul’s immune system and the progression of the HIV virus, the nurse recommended that Paul receive a CD4 test the next day.

Until recently, the Jules Fleury Hospital, like most health centers providing CD4 tests in Haiti, used a manual method, often requiring patients to wait up to two days for their results. For the estimated 175,000 people living with HIV in Haiti, poor access to laboratory services and longer wait times for CD4 tests can lead to delayed initiation of antiretroviral therapy, poor patient retention, and increased risk of death and suffering.

In 2013, through assistance from the PEPFAR- and USAID-funded Santé pour le Développement et la Stabilité d’Haiti (SDSH II) project, the Jules Fleury Hospital received a PIMA CD4 test machine, which provides accurate test results within twenty minutes and does not require manual processing, allowing lab technicians to perform other duties while the test runs.

According to Joseph Borgelain, the in-charge of the Jules Fleury Hospital laboratory, quicker test results have helped improve patient care. Joseph explained:

Before the PIMA CD4 test machine, it would have taken me about thirty minutes during which I would not have been able to do anything else. Now, I just have to collect one drop of blood from the patient and put the cartridge into the machine. While the machine is performing the test, I am able to conduct other diagnostic tests, including for tuberculosis.

SDSH II supported installation of four PIMA CD4 test machines in 2013, benefiting 7,224 people enrolled in HIV/AIDS care and treatment programs in 41 project-supported health facilities. Joseph added:

On top of being a very easy and rapid use machine, the PIMA is a much more reliable laboratory technique. I know that the results I am giving are of good quality, which ultimately benefits our patients.

Within twenty minutes, Paul’s test results were completed and he began antiretroviral therapy the same day. His health is now slowly improving.