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Fake HIV kit not in Uganda


New Vision (Kampala) - January 11, 2012

The health ministry has said that Bioline, the rapid test kit for HIV/AIDS which has been blacklisted by the world health organization (WHO) for being ineffective, is not used in Uganda.

Bioline, which is manufactured in South Korea, was used by different countries as a confirmatory test, the second conducted during standard HIV testing, which uses three tests - an initial screening test, a confirmatory test and if there is a discrepancy, a third, tie-breaker test.

But WHO last month removed Bioline from its list of approved rapid test kits after it failed quality assurance tests.

At the time, over one million kits were in circulation in Kenya, about one-tenth of all the HIV kits available in the country then, according to official estimates by the Kenyan government.

The fake kits were also being used in Tanzania among other countries in the region. "What we know so far is that 1,178 test kits have been used in the field, but we have yet to substantiate exactly how many of them were defective," Hadji Mponda, Tanzania's Health Minister, was quoted as saying at a news conference on last week.

Although the two governments have since recalled the condemned kits, there are fears the kits could still be in circulation in neighbouring countries.

However, the health ministry on Tuesday confirmed it had never approved Bioline test kits nor have they ever been imported into Uganda.

Dr. Zainab akol, the manager of the national HIV/AIDS control programme, said the ministry approved only three brands for testing HIV in Uganda.

The brands include Ditamine, Statpack, and Unigold. She said some other brands are used in HIV research and not in public health service provision.

"We are very tough when it comes to approving equipment used in testing and treating HIV/AIDS," Akol stated. "The three brands we approved are accurate and can withstand our conditions including low refrigeration." Akol noted that centralizing the purchase and distribution of medical supplies under the national medical stores (NMS) had also helped to guard against importation of fake drugs and equipment.

She was, however, dismayed that Bioline, which initially was among the "most effective rapid testing kits", could later turn out to be ineffective.

Moses Kamabale the NMS General Manager confirmed that Bioline is not used Uganda. Regina Ssali, in-charge Kiswa Health Centre, and a laboratory technician at Case Medicare, a private clinic prominent in HIV testing and treatment, also said they had never heard about the Bioline kits.


All articles are republished on AEGIS by permission. Material may not be redistributed, posted to any other location, published or used for broadcast without written authorization from Managing Director/Editor-in-chief, The New Vision, P.O. Box 9815, Kampala - Uganda, Tel/fax: 256-41-235221, E-mail: 

Information in this article was accurate in January 11, 2012. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.