Mobile HIV testing lab arrives in Tygerberg

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Pretoria - An advanced state -of-the-art mobile diagnostic laboratory for HIV Counseling and Testing (HCT) has finally arrived in Tygerberg Hospital in the Western Cape.

The R15 million mobile laboratory, developed and donated by German's Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering, allows testing of diseases, including HIV, TB and malaria.

The unit contains a fully equipped biomedical laboratory including bio-safety level 3 facilities, sample storage facilities, an on-board autoclave, own power supply, satellite-linked communications and a range of other facilities.

It will be able to evaluate a patient's eligibility for antiretroviral therapy (ART) and perform relevant baseline tests on the same day it diagnoses a patient's HIV status.

This follows an agreement signed by Western Cape Health MEC, Theuns Botha, who flew to Germany in July this year.

In terms of the agreement, the Fraunhofer Institute will provide all necessary technical support through German organisations and experts during the one-year trial period in the province.

The department is responsible for identifying priority geographic areas and target populations that could benefit from the use of the laboratory, undertaking joint planning and project reviews in collaboration with the institute and other partners. It also has to provide maintenance support, supplies and counselling and testing services.

Botha said through the laboratory, medical personnel will be able to refer patients to existing ART sites in a much quicker and more effective manner, thereby fast-tracking the initiation of life changing services.

"Not only will this unit accelerate our provincial HCT campaign, it means we are now able to take the clinic and the laboratory to the communities we serve. This is in line with our promise to make healthcare accessible, in particular to rural communities and to improve the patient experience," said Botha.