BBC News Examines Mobile Device For Monitoring HIV-Positive Patients
April 14, 2009
BBC News on Sunday examined how the Bwindi Community Hospital -- located in a remote region on the border between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo -- has improved its capacity to monitor HIV-positive people using a portable blood-testing device, called the PointCare NOW machine. According to BBC News, the Bwindi hospital provides health care to about 40,000 people, including 1,000 people living with HIV. However, the area's lack of transportation and roads pose obstacles for people seeking health services. Therefore, the hospital dispatches a four-wheel-drive "community ambulance," which carries the PointCare NOW machine, to reach remote communities.
The machine, which the hospital received as a donation in 2008, counts CD4+ cells and five other subtypes of white blood cells. The results provide physicians with a complete picture of the patient's immune system, as well as indicators of whether the patient might have anemia, tuberculosis or other opportunistic infections. It also allows health workers to monitor antiretroviral treatment. Paul Williams, a physician working with the Bwindi Community Hospital, said that in the past, it could take several days or weeks for an HIV-positive person to receive the results of a blood test. "Now, with this simple piece of technology, we can deal with problems immediately," he said. According to Williams, the machine also has contributed to declining HIV mortality rates. "We're able to diagnose it early, manage it early and keep people living with HIV fit and well," Williams said. He added, "Over a reasonably short period of time, we've been able to change HIV from being a death sentence into something that people can live with and lead productive lives" (Gill, BBC News, 4/12).
This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.