In the global scale-up of HIV testing and treatment, rapid diagnostic tests are the cornerstone of HIV diagnosis. However, despite their relative simplicity, HIV misdiagnosis still occurs due to human error, poor storage and transportation conditions of test kits, and challenges such as inadequate training and supervision.
FIND is working with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local implementing partners in Kenya, Zambia, Uganda and Ethiopia as part of the HIV Rapid Test Quality Improvement Initiative to improve the quality of HIV rapid testing by:
- Supporting changes in national policies related to quality assurance of rapid HIV testing;
- Introducing the use of dried tube specimens to test the proficiency of testers;
- Using standardized registers to record test results, and following up on corrective actions;
- Providing comprehensive training on correct use of rapid HIV tests with certification of testing sites and individual testers; and
- Post-market surveillance.
Quality Corps Volunteers or “Q-Corps” support health personnel in the quality assurance cycle by providing feedback to sites and supporting them to implement corrective actions. FIND is working with the CDC to expand Q-Corps activities in Central Asia and Mozambique.
HIV incidence is the number of new HIV infections in a population within a defined time period.
It is important to measure HIV incidence in order to know whether the number of new infections is going up or down. However, measuring HIV incidence is difficult. Tests that can distinguish recent from longstanding HIV infection have the potential to save time, labour and cost compared to other methods.
With the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, FIND and partners are working to advance the field of HIV incidence measurement by:
- Coordinating a consensus process for target product profiles to guide the development of new, simplified HIV incidence tests that meet priority needs;
- Working with WHO, UNAIDS and other key global partners to fill evidence gaps and update standardized guidance for existing HIV incidence tests, to ensure that available tests are used effectively;
- Managing a new biomarker discovery pipeline to form the basis of new, improved HIV incidence tests;
- Supporting improvements to a valuable repository of HIV specimens used by researchers for the development and validation of new HIV incidence tests.
FIND’s partners in this work include members of the Consortium for the Evaluation and Performance of HIV Incidence Assays (CEPHIA).