Turnaround time for early infant HIV diagnosis in rural Zambia: A chart review

Catherine G. Sutcliffe, Janneke H. Van Dijk, Francis Hamangaba, Felix Mayani, William J. Moss

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


Background: Early infant HIV diagnosis is challenging in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in rural areas where laboratory capacity is limited. Specimens must be transported to central laboratories for testing, leading to delays in diagnosis and initiation of antiretroviral therapy. This study was undertaken in rural Zambia to measure the turnaround time for confirmation of HIV infection and identify delays in diagnosis. Methods: Chart reviews were conducted from 2010-2012 for children undergoing early infant HIV diagnosis at Macha Hospital in Zambia. Relevant dates, receipt of drugs by mother and child for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT), and test results were abstracted. Results: 403 infants provided 476 samples for early infant diagnosis. The median age at the "6-week" and "6-month" assessments was 8.1 weeks and 7.0 months, respectively. The majority of mothers (80%) and infants (67%) received PMTCT. The median time between sample collection and arrival at the central laboratory in Lusaka was 17 days (IQR: 10, 28); arrival at the central laboratory to testing was 6 days (IQR: 5, 11); testing to return of results to the clinic was 29 days (IQR: 17, 36); arrival of results at the clinic to return of results to the caregiver was 45 days (IQR: 24, 79). The total median time from sample collection to return of results to the caregiver was 92 days (IQR: 84, 145). The proportion of HIV PCR positive samples was 12%. The total median turnaround time was shorter for HIV PCR positive as compared to negative or invalid samples (85 vs. 92 days; p = 0.08). Conclusions: Delays in processing and communicating test results were identified, particularly in returning results from the central laboratory to the clinic and from the clinic to the caregiver. A more efficient process is needed so that caregivers can be provided test results more rapidly, potentially resulting in earlier treatment initiation and better outcomes for HIV-infected infants.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere87028
JournalPloS one
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 24 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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