KENYA – Kenya’s Ministry of Health has announced plans to implement a three-test HIV testing algorithm as the country seeks to optimize ongoing efforts to deal with the virus, the ministry said on its website.

The adoption of the three-test HIV testing algorithm comes just a week after the Ministry of Health in Kenya launched the revised National Guidelines for Treatment and Prevention of HIV.

According to World Health Organization (WHO), HIV can be diagnosed through rapid diagnostic tests that provide same-day results as it greatly facilitates early diagnosis and linkage with treatment and care.

The specialized agency of the United Nations highlights that HIV infection can be detected with great accuracy using WHO prequalified tests within a nationally approved testing strategy and algorithm.

WHO further notes that most widely-used HIV diagnostic tests detect antibodies produced by the person as part of their immune response to fight HIV.

HIV infection can be detected with great accuracy using WHO prequalified tests within a nationally approved testing strategy and algorithm. Most widely-used HIV diagnostic tests detect antibodies produced by the person as part of their immune response to fight HIV. In most cases, people develop antibodies to HIV within 28 days of infection.

World Health Organization (WHO)

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As per WHO 2015 HIV Testing guidelines, sequential testing of the sample for HIV specific antibodies by three Rapid Tests is recommended for confirmation of HIV diagnosis in settings of low HIV prevalence (less than 5%).

The Ministry of Health in Kenya revealed that plans are currently underway to adopt the three-test HIV testing in the country in a bid to introduce a feasible approach without compromising the quality and readability of testing.

The health ministry further disclosed that there was sufficient evidence indicating that the two-test algorithm was not optimal for HIV testing in the country.

Furthermore, WHO has recommended a shift to 3-test algorithm for countries with a HIV prevalence of less than 5% with Kenya’s standing at 4.3%.

Kenya’s Health Cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe said the field testing will be piloted in selected counties ahead of the national roll out after he received a preliminary report of a technical Task Force on the adoption of the procedure.

According to the Ministry of Health, the Task Force was charged with reviewing performance reports of the current HIV testing algorithm and available evidence to adapt the three-test algorithm as per WHO recommendation.

The government department further said that the Task Force on HIV/AIDS was required to contextualize the adaptation process, implementation and feasibility of the three-test algorithm before filing its report to the Director General for Health office.

In addition, the eleven-member taskforce which was constituted in March 2022 comprised of government officials, technical partners and research scientists.

Health Cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe acknowledged members of the technical Taskforce for exhibiting professionalism and adhering to WHO recommendations while undertaking the assignment.

Mutahi Kagwe observed that it is the first time a review of a testing algorithm has been done in Kenya in strict fidelity to the scientific process defined in a protocol as recommended by WHO and approved by an Ethical Review Committee and the National Commission for Science, Technology and Innovation.

At the same time, Acting Director General for Health Dr. Patrick Amoth confirmed that the recommendations of the taskforce will be implemented as per the protocol and later adopted as the country’s testing algorithm.

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