India is planning to equip thousands of its village health workers with a rapid HIV test kit that will enable them conduct faster AIDS test.
Using the new kit that requires just a prick on a person's fingertip, the health workers will now be able to get the results in just 20 minutes, report IANS.
“We have recently adopted the whole blood finger prick testing technology (WBFTT) and have piloted the project in a few districts. We hope it will be rolled out across the country by early 2009,” National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) Joint Director Ajay Khera said.
NACO is the apex agency under the country's Union Health Ministry aimed at curbing, controlling and treating HIV/AIDS victims. It spreads awareness among people about the disease though information and education campaigns.
“This will allow the Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANMs) visiting families in rural India to conduct HIV tests on willing people. I am sure, it will revolutionise the concept of AIDS testing and help give a better picture of the disease,” Khera said.
He further said that since health workers have good relations with the villagers and have access to families, equipping them for HIV tests would go a long way in reducing fear of the disease.
“If ANMs finds some one positive, then the person can come to the nearby integrated counselling and testing centre (ICTC) for a confirmed tests and further counselling,” he explained.
Currently India is home to at least 2.5 million HIV/AIDS patients and there are nearly 4,500 ICTC centres.
The new technology does not require separating serum and red blood cells from the blood sample, as is the practice now. “This will help save time and reduce workload at ICTCs,” Khera stressed.
At present people are called to the testing centre, counselled and then their blood samples are collected. They are then asked to come the next day to collect their report. “But with the new technology, we can save much time,” he added.
He said a pilot project to study its effectiveness is being conducted in 10 districts of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. “As soon as the pilot project's results come in, it will be rolled out across the country,” he said