AHF Urges WHO: Save Critical HIV Tech

In Global Advocacy, Global Featured, News by Brian Shepherd

AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) urges the World Health Organization (WHO) to call on manufacturers of vital point-of-care (POC) CD4 equipment, including Abbott Laboratories and Becton Dickinson (BD), to continue production of the HIV testing equipment and any necessary commodities that ensure proper functioning.

“Working in 46 countries, AHF country teams are seeing the consequences of Abbott’s and BD’s decisions firsthand, particularly in Africa and Asia. POC CD4 machines are scarce, if countries have them at all, along with the needed reagent cartridges that allow for 20-minute results. The companies have also stopped making service calls on existing equipment, abandoning patients and leaving healthcare workers empty-handed,” said AHF Senior Global Medical Director Dr. Adele Schwartz Benzaken. “We urge the WHO to speak up and call on makers of CD4 testing equipment to begin producing the machines and reagents immediately, along with providing support to existing equipment in the field, as many are failing globally.”

A previous, yet now reversed, shift in preference by WHO from CD4 to viral load testing to assess the health of HIV-positive patients caused manufacturers of CD4 machines to announce a dangerous wind down in production, of which AHF warned about.

CD4 testing shows how HIV damages our immune system since the virus targets and destroys CD4 cells. While CD4 count is not vital for HIV diagnosis, it’s extremely important upon diagnosis, as the patient’s condition may have already progressed to AIDS—thus essential to the HIV continuum of care.

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