CD4 testing at clinics to assess eligibility for Antiretroviral therapy

Rumours Lumala*, Thomas van den Akker, Carol Ann Metcalf, Emma Diggle, Bote Zamadenga, Kingsley Mbewa, Ann Akkeson

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to JournalReview articleAcademicpeer-review


    Background In 2011, the Ministry of Health raised the CD4 threshold for antiretroviral therapy (ART) eligibility from <250 cells/μl and <350 cells/μl, but at the same time only 8.8% of facilities in Malawi with HIV services provided CD4 testing. We conducted a record review at 10 rural clinics in Thyolo District to assess the impact of introducing CD4 testing on identifying patients eligible for ART. Methods: We abstracted CD4 counts of all ART-naïve, HIV-infected patients with WHO clinical stages 1 and 2 and an initial CD4 test between May 2008 and June 2009. At four clinics, we also abstracted CD4 counts of patients not initially eligible for ART who were retested before April 2010. Results Of 1,113 patients tested, the initial CD4 was "≤250 cells/μl" and "≤350 cells/μl" in 534 (48.0%). Of 203 patients with follow-up results, the most recent CD4 was ≤250 cells/μl in 34 (24.5%), and ≤350 cells/μl in 64 (46.0%). Conclusions CD4 testing in rural clinics is feasible and identifies many patients eligible for ART who would not be identified without CD4 testing. CD4 testing needs to be scaled-up to identify patients eligible for ART. ART services need to be scaled-up concurrently to meet the resulting increased demand.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)25-28
    Number of pages4
    JournalMalawi medical journal
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 8 Oct 2012


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