The search for an appropriate, affordable HIV test for Africa.
In comparison with the commercially available ELISA test for HIV, new more appropriate tests for use in African locales are being supported by USAID, PATH, the International Development Research Center of Canada and the Rockefeller Foundation. ELISA tests are suited for high volume, high technology, automation, data management, accuracy, and cost about US$1 per test. In contrast, tests for African laboratories must be inexpensive, suitable for small numbers of tests, possibly no refrigeration or electricity, and unsophisticated technicians. a series of 5 prototype tests designed for african laboratories been evaluated at the Mama Yemo Hospital, Kinshasa, Zaire, under the auspices of Diagnostic Technology for Community Health (USAID-funded) and managed by PATH. Results comparable to those with ELISA could be achieved with duplicate testing, but the cost remained about the same. to lower final costs, development and overhead for the supplier must be carried by donor funds. With there criteria in mind, PATH is working on a public sector HIV test taking <30 minutes, costing <US$.25 per test, requiring minimal equipment and training. A test using an 8-well blank with a comb containing solid phase HIV gp41 peptide, and read by color development, has shown promise. If it can be produced locally, it will cost about $US.14 per test. Such low-cost test kits may even cause the price of commercially available HIV tests to decline.