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BIVDA launches ‘Testing Tuesday’ Twitter campaign

In order to raise awareness of IVD testing and the benefits of early diagnosis, BIVDA is launching an exciting Twitter campaign and hashtag #TestingTuesday. Every Tuesday we will select a disease area to explore and promote, while raising awareness of the benefits of IVD technology for that disease area.

We would like to extend an invitation to any patient group with an ‘early diagnosis’ agenda to work alongside us on #TestingTuesday. What is your disease area? What are the most common tests performed for it? Are there any innovations which should be promoted? We are keen to work alongside you in using Twitter to raise awareness. Anything from information to a simple ‘re-tweet’ is welcome. You can follow us @bivda 

Tuesday 26th June – HIV & AIDS

We are proud to kick start the campaign by focusing on HIV & AIDS. An estimated 91,500 people are living with HIV in the UK. However, it is impossible to be precise because of the estimated 22,000 infected, yet undiagnosed, people living with HIV in the UK. The estimated worldwide figure is 33 million, of whom 25 million are thought to be in developing countries.

HIV is a virus which attacks the immune system, making it difficult to fight off disease. However, HIV and AIDS are not the same thing. This is why early diagnosis is so important. Someone living with HIV has the virus present in their body. Yet someone with AIDS can no longer fight off illnesses due to their immune system becoming so weak. Early diagnosis of HIV can stop this development from HIV to AIDS by allowing for management of the virus with drugs.

Symptoms which may signal HIV infection are fever, rash and a sore throat.

There are two main tests which are essential for effective treatment of HIV. The viral load test is a measurement of HIV nucleic acid that provides information which is best used in conjunction with the CD4 cell count. Evidence shows that keeping the viral load levels as low as possible for as long as possible decreases the complications of HIV disease and prolongs life. This information can be used to monitor and predict the status of HIV and to guide recommendations for treatment.

The CD4 test measures the level of T-helper cells in the blood. T-helper cells are essential to the immune system, they co-ordinate the other cells in fighting disease and illness. Testing for the number of T-cells is a vital component for the management and care of people suffering from HIV and is required to determine when HIV patients should commence antiretroviral treatment. In addition, the World Health Organisation recommends patients are tested at least every 6 months thereafter to monitor their health during antiretroviral treatment.

In poorer countries, CD4 testing has often been unavailable due to the expense of the equipment. However, there are now innovative and cost effective CD4 point-of-care (POC) disposable tests for the detection of CD4 T-cell levels, aimed at reaching HIV¬-positive patients across the globe. BIVDA member company, Omega Diagnostics Group PLC has licensed technology from the Burnet Institute in Melbourne, Australia, to offer an affordable POC test that enables CD4 T-cell levels to be determined, quickly and conveniently, even in remote rural areas in resource-poor countries. This is a simple, point of care test which produces a visual result in just 40 minutes, enabling patients to receive life-saving antiretroviral treatment before leaving the clinic. Minimal training is required and no additional instruments are necessary, eliminating the need for sophisticated equipment, expensive reagents and highly trained staff.

If you would like to know more about #TestingTuesday, or if you are an interested patient group, please contact Gemma Scotcher on gemma@bivda.co.uk

You can read more about Omega Diagnostics Group PLC’s CD4 test here and you can read more about point-of-care tests here. 

More information about HIV testing and monitoring can be found at:

Lab Tests Online http://www.labtestsonline.org.uk/

National AIDS Trust http://www.nat.org.uk/

AVERT http://www.avert.org/

If there is a link which should be added to this list, please let us know.