A ZIMBABWEAN nurse, Chenai Mathabire, has been honoured by the International Aids Society Conference on HIV Science (IAS2017) for her research on the life-saving tuberculosis (TB) test kit.
Mathabire, who works with Doctors Without Borders (MSF), won the HIV/TB research prize for her groundbreaking HIV/TB research on the use of a portable test for TB among severely ill HIV patients in Mozambique and Malawi clinics.
The International Aids Society said the feasibility study provided strong evidence that an easy-to-use point-of-care TB LAM test, which quickly diagnoses TB in severely ill HIV patients, is possible to use in clinics with high numbers of HIV and TB patients.
The test, which costs $3, needs little training to use and confirms the results in 30 minutes, meaning clinicians can start TB treatment early, without the current delays, which have an adverse effect on treatment outcomes.
“In Malawi, some HIV patients with suspected TB were waiting months for laboratory or X-ray results to come back,” Mathabire said.
“Clinicians don’t like to start patients on treatment based only on clinical signs and symptoms. They prefer to have a diagnostic test result.”
The test uses an HIV-positive patient’s urine to detect LAM (lipoarabinomanan), a protein created when TB bacteria cells break down.
The lower the patient’s immunity, which is measured by CD4 T-cells, the more LAM appears in the urine and the more sensitive the test becomes.
This is why the test is recommended for use in patients with CD4 cells below 100.
Compared to sputum or X-ray tests, nearly 99% of TB LAM test patients received timely treatment.
Mathabire has been a field worker with MSF Southern Africa since 2012 and has worked in Sierra Leone, Uzbekistan, South Sudan and twice in Malawi.