The Burnet-developed VISITECT® CD4.
Burnet Institute has received US$1.6 million from UNITAID to kick start field evaluation studies in India and South Africa of VISITECT® CD4 (a point-of-care test which determines when an HIV-positive patient should start lifesaving treatment).
This grant is part of US$20 million of funding to four developers of easy-to-use HIV diagnostics designed for low-income countries, in order to stimulate competition and encourage improved technologies on to the market quickly at more affordable prices.
VISITECT® CD4 uses a small amount of blood from a finger-prick with results available after 40 minutes at a cost of approximately $5, significantly less than the existing tests.
Burnet Institute Associate Director and VISITECT® CD4 co-developer, Professor Suzanne Crowe AM said the test will make a significant impact on those people living with HIV in India and low-income countries.
“There are about 2.1 million people living with HIV in India and while patients attending many urban centres in India have excellent care, those living in rural areas lack access to affordable HIV monitoring tests,” Professor Crowe said.
“The low-cost, point-of-care VISITECT® CD4 will greatly improve access to life-saving anti-HIV drugs for potentially hundreds of thousands of HIV-positive people in India. The test will be ready for field trials by July this year.”
Professor Crowe will announce the details of the project at the International Science Symposium on HIV and Infectious Diseases in Chennai, India.
UNITAID Executive Director a.i Dr Philippe Duneton said the organisation has already committed over US$140 million to portable and easy-to-use HIV diagnostic technology.
“Our efforts are to provide better quality of care at the community level – affordable prices are critical to improve access in low-income countries. It is essential that our investments in easy-to-use, point-of-care tests are scaled up by other donors to reach millions of people so that those needing life-saving treatment can receive them quickly,” Dr Duneton said.
This project is in collaboration with Omega Diagnostics Group PLC, UK, Y.R.G Care, India, The University of Witwatersrand, South Africa and The Kirby Institute, NSW, Australia.
VISITECT® CD4 was developed through the support of the Victorian Government, CD4 Initiative, Axxin, ACH2, National Health and Medical Research Council and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.
Professor Suzanne Crowe is available for interviews on Friday 31 January, between
12.30pm – 1pm AEDT (7am – 7.30am IST)
Senior Media and Communications Officer, Burnet Institute
+61 422 043 498 or [email protected]