Integrated Regional Information Networks - January 27, 2012
NAROK, 27 January 2012 (PlusNews) - Voluntary counselling and
testing centres around Kenya are turning people away due to a
shortage of HIV testing kits after the recall in December of more
than one million faulty HIV tests.
"We have had a shortage of the test kits for the past month and
we have had to turn away patients. There are serious gaps with
the supply chain and this has led to constant shortages of these
crucial commodities," said John Sankok, director of the Christian
Missionaries Fellowship, which runs several health clinics in the
Rift Valley Province's Narok South District.
"We have had to prioritize and use the kits available for testing
expectant mothers, because this is very crucial," he added.
In November, the UN World Health Organization removed the
Standard Diagnostics Bioline(R) HIV 1/2 3.0 Rapid HIV Test Kit from
its list of approved rapid test kits with immediate effect; the
alert was issued after Bioline failed quality assurance tests.
The Kenyan government has since withdrawn it; an estimated one
million kits were in circulation at the time of the recall, about
one-tenth of all those available in the country; Tanzania has
also banned the tests.
Bioline was used 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.
As a result of the recall, Unigold, the brand used in Kenya as a
tie-breaker, now replaces Bioline as the confirmatory test, and
the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test - which
requires a blood sample be sent to a laboratory and takes
significantly longer than the rapid tests - becomes the
tie-breaker. A brand known as Determine retains its place as the
official screening test.
Senior government officials blamed the shortage on congestion at
the Mombasa port.
"There have been problems with the port due to slow clearance of
cargo occasioned by congestion and this has led to delays in
distributing Unigold," said Nicholas Muraguri, head of the
National AIDS and Sexually transmitted infections Control
Programme. "We, however, expect things to normalize by the end of
Sankok said until the Unigold kits arrive, his clinics and other
were stuck. "The HIV testing procedure is such that you cannot do
a test if you are missing any of the kits. So until the Unigold
gets to the facilities, nothing will happen in terms of HIV
testing," he said.
People seeking HIV testing have also expressed frustration with
"It is very discouraging when you go to the facility when you
really want to get tested, then you are turned way and when you
return after some time you are turned away again," said Judith*,
a VCT client in Narok.
*Not her real name