A new point of care test for HIV is being rolled out across Africa – including Kenya, Malawi, Uganda and Zimbabwe - transforming diagnosis of the illness in the field.

SAMBA (Simple AMplification-Based Assay) is the first test that can be used in low resource settings to detect the presence of the HIV virus’ genetic material, rather than antibodies created by our bodies in response to infection. Being able to test the ‘viral load’ means that SAMBA can diagnose newly-infected HIV patients, new-born babies and monitor resistance to anti-retroviral drugs.

The test is being used where need is highest: two-thirds of the estimated 33 million individuals infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) worldwide live in sub-Saharan Africa, where three-quarters of the deaths from AIDS also occur.

SAMBA has been designed to be quick and easy to use. The first generation of SAMBA is already in the field and improving lives of patients in Uganda and Malawi. The technology is available in selected Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) clinics, where doctors are also training women to carry out testing themselves.

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