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Improving Laboratory Efficiency in the Caribbean to Attain the World Health Organization HIV Treat All Recommendations.

Improving Laboratory Efficiency in the Caribbean to Attain the World Health Organization HIV Treat All Recommendations.
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Alemnji GA, Chase M, Branch S, Guevara G, Nkengasong JN, Albalak R,


Alemnji GA, Chase M, Branch S, Guevara G, Nkengasong JN, Albalak R, (click to view)

Alemnji GA, Chase M, Branch S, Guevara G, Nkengasong JN, Albalak R,

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AIDS research and human retroviruses 2017 10 01() doi 10.1089/AID.2017.0158

Abstract

Scientific evidence showing the benefits of early initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) prompted World Health organization (WHO) to recommend that all persons diagnosed HIV-positive should commence ART irrespective of CD4 count and disease progression. Based on this recommendation, countries should adopt and implement the HIV "Treat All" policy to achieve the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets and ultimately reach epidemic control. Attaining this goal along the HIV treatment cascade depends on the laboratory to monitor progress and measure impact. The laboratory plays an important role in HIV diagnosis to attain the first 90 and in viral load (VL) and HIV drug resistance testing to reinforce adherence, improve viral suppression, and measure the third 90. Countries in the Caribbean region have endorsed the WHO HIV "Treat all" recommendation; however, they are faced with diminishing financial resources to support laboratory testing, seen as a rate-limiting factor to achieving this goal. To improve laboratory coverage with fewer resources in the Caribbean there is the need to optimise laboratory operations to ensure the implementation of high quality, less expensive, evidence-based approaches that will result in more efficient and effective service delivery. Suggested practical and innovative approaches to achieve this include: 1) targeted testing within HIV hotspots; 2) strengthening sample referral systems for VL; 3) better laboratory data collection systems; and 4) use of treatment cascade data for programmatic decision making. Furthermore, strengthening quality improvement and procurement systems will minimize diagnostic errors and guarantee a continuum of uninterrupted testing which is critical for routine monitoring of patients to meet the stated goal.

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