As part of efforts to reach out to more patients by making its services more affordable, the Chantal Biya International Reference Centre, CIRCB, Yaounde, has reduced the cost of the Antiretroviral, ARV drug test for AIDS patients who develop resistance. The amount has been slashed from 100,000 FCFA to 10,000 FCFA – a reduction of 90 per cent. According to Prof. Alexis Ndjolo, Director of the Chantal Biya International Reference Centre, the decision officially took effect as from July 28, 2016.
For now, only three other laboratories, all private and based in Yaounde, carry out the state-of-the-art test in Cameroon. The cost in these laboratories is understood to be much higher than 100,000 FCFA. Talking to Cameroon Tribune on Thursday, August 4, 2016, in Yaounde, the Director of CIRCB, Prof. Alexis Ndjolo, explained that the decision, which officially took effect on July 28, 2016, was informed by the need to make treatment more affordable to patients.
“It has been realised that the longer AIDS patients remain on ARVs, the tendency is for them to develop resistance to treatment. Thus, the need to ease their treatment by reducing the cost of the drug resistance test, given the increasing number of cases we receive,” the Director noted. “The other reason is to enable people who continue to send their tests abroad to carry them at home.
Moreover, the Chantal Biya International Reference Centre, as a research centre, needs large quantities of samples to carry out its work on resistance to antiretroviral treatment,” Prof. Alexis Ndjolo explained. According to him, it is hoped that the antiretroviral resistance test will eventually become free.
The ARV resistance test is so specialised that it requires state-of-the-art technology, reason why it is carried out in Cameroon by very few laboratories. The test seeks to find out what specific antibiotic should be used for each patient who develops resistance to antiretroviral drug treatment. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Public Health recently opted for the “Test and treat” option to HIV infections. This means that those who test positive to the virus are immediately placed on ARV treatment, instead of waiting to enter the disease phase like was the case in the past.