Thousands of Africans Wrongly Diagnosed as HIV Positive

Thousands of Africans Wrongly Diagnosed as HIV Positive

Published March 19, 2009

Thousands of east Africans were wrongly diagnosed as HIV positive because of cheap, rapid tests used in poor nations and administered at VCT centers.

A study published in The EastAfrican included 6,255 people, ages 18 to 60, at a village in Masaka and the Kakira sugar plantations, in Uganda and a coastal village in Kilifi and a slum in Kangemi estate in Nairobi.

Two different tests done on all  6,255 people found that 131 had “discrepant” results — where one is positive and the other negative, the report said. On a third test, The EastAfrican reports, 27 people were confirmed to be carrying the virus, “meaning that without such controls and using just one test, 104 people could have been misdiagnosed as HIV positive.”

The risk of misdiagnosis rises when they are done once without a confirmation test, the report says. “

This is because they are ‘fraught with errors and as such, cannot alone be used to determine whether an individual is positive or not.’”

Follow-up tests used to confirm initial rapid-test results are usually not conducted at the VCT administering centers, which tend to be run by non-medical staff, according to The EastAfrican. The rapid tests — “Determine”, “Uni Gold” and “Capillus” — are normally used in poor societies because they are not expensive.

About 2.5 million people visit VCT centers every year, according to Assistant Medical Services Director Peter Cherutich.

“Kenya has an estimated 1,000 independent VCT sites that screen about 800,000 people a year. A similar number is tested in government hospitals and another 700,000 after seeking treatment,” the journal reports.

Written by News Staff


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