Medical diagnostic and health management company Alare has launched a 20 minute portable testing device for measuring immune strength in people with HIV to help determine when a patient should begin anti-retroviral therapy in Australia.

The Alare CD4 Test, launched in Sydney at the Australasian HIV/AIDS Conference last week, comprises of a portable analyser and removable cartridges and tests a patients levels of CD4 T-helper cells from a fingerprick or venous blood sample in only 20 minutes.

Under normal circumstances a physician would usually have to send away to a large centralised lab for a process that could take days, meaning that HIV patients living in remote locations often have no or limited access to CD4 testing.

The device comes in a protective case allowing it to be used on site in remote areas and developing nations where a clinical setting may not be available, and the device is already being used in a number of pacific nations including Fiji.
National Association of People living With HIV/AIDS (NAPWA) Executive Director, Jo Watson, told Sydney Star Observer that there was a trend towards developing portable diagnostic devices that could be used away from large lab networks.

“Clearly in resource poor settings and remote areas, these sorts of tools are going to be quite attractive,” said Watson, “We’re going to see more advances in the technologies in terms of accuracy and reliability, which is good because one of the pitfalls for this area has been the quality or strength of results that you got with a lot of the previous generations of diagnostic tools.”

Watson said that in Australia the devices were unlikely to be used in environments where lab testing was readily available, but they would likely have applications for clinicians working in regional and remote communities, and with hard to reach populations like Indigenous Australians.

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