JIS News

An Immunology Centre is now in operation at the National Public Health Laboratory at Slipe Pen Road, in Kingston, with facilities to offer Viral Load testing, Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) technology to reduce risk of window period transmission during blood screening and CD4 count testing for HIV patients.
According to Minister of Health, John Junor, who was speaking at the recent official opening of the Centre, the Viral Load and CD4 equipment help to monitor immunological markers of disease progression or recovery and the timely commencement or adjustment of antiretroviral medications.
“The CD4 laboratory is state-of-the-art as any other such lab in the first world. It is one of the most advanced in the Caribbean,” the Minister informed, adding that the lab will also be able to make definitive diagnosis of HIV exposed infants as early as six weeks. Without this lab, he noted that this diagnosis could only be definitive within the first 18 months of the infant’s life.
Cabinet recently approved the award of the contract to Roche Diagnostics for the supply of the necessary reagents over a two-year period at an estimated cost of $20 million. Services will be available to HIV infected persons both in the public and private sector at an average cost of $1,000 for detecting CD4 counts and $2,000 for detecting viral loads. This is in comparison to the $7,000 now being charged for CD4 count at the public institution and $27,000 at the private ones.