Last year, students at Kenya's Strathmore University began software development on a database system to help speed up the delivery of HIV test results for infants in remote areas. Diagnosis within six weeks of birth ensures the timely initiation of antiretroviral therapy.
With the system already implemented in 75 of Kenya's most remote health centers, blood samples are logged into one of the four central Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) CDC laboratories. A text message is sent to the rural health center confirming the sample's receipt. Upon diagnosis, another text confirmation is generated to the rural center, which notifies parents the results are ready.
"As a policy, all positive results on the [polymerase chain reaction] equipment have to be re-run for confirmation in order to avoid false positives that might be due to contamination," said Oscar Mulondanome, a lab technologist at the Alupe Center testing laboratory.
Use of the system is cutting down the time spent waiting for a diagnosis, delays that can span up to 18 weeks. An additional 50 facilities will be connected to the testing sites in trial phases, said Silvia Kadima, a researcher with KEMRI. By April, the software will be further customized and officially rolled out by the government, Kadima said.