Alarm after US confirms Kenyans are using faulty HIV test kits

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The United States for International Development (USAID) and the Centers for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) have confirmed reports that had surfaced last year in regards to faulty HIV testing kits used in a couple of African nations.

The two US agencies conducted analysis on the said kits and noted irregularities but termed them as insignificant and had minimal effects.

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Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) in its report last year raised concerns over allegations that every seven out of eight HIV test kits used in Guinea, Uganda, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Kenya were faulty. However what was of more concern is the fact that the World Health Organization (WHO) had given a green light on the use of the kits.

The lead author of the MSF report, Cara S Kosack said they undertook the evaluation after finding cases of HIV misdiagnosis from data collected in the five African countries.
“Most kits performed more poorly than WHO evaluations, with only one test (STAT-PAK) meeting the recommended thresholds,” said Cara.

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A publication of the International AIDs Society that was released by US on August 31 confirmed that the study conducted by MSF was indeed under the umbrella of the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PERFAR) with the agencies citing minimal effects.

“Our evaluation established some variation in diagnostic accuracy of the kits. This had a very small effect on concerned population. However, any misdiagnosis in HIV testing is serious to the affected individuals and general health systems,” read a statement from the agencies. 

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Kenya’s Director of Medical Services Dr. Jackson Kioko last year defended the kits saying they met the required standards. The country has since introduced self-HIV testing kits but questions have been raised on the use of the kits without professional counselling prior to testing.

“Let me clearly state that all health products in this country are duly evaluated and registered before they are adopted in the national diagnostic and treatment protocol,” he said. 

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