More than 30 million people are infected with HIV worldwide. In the course of an HIV infection, CD4 cells indicate the state of the immune system and act as markers for T cell lymphocytes. Patients with a low count of these cells in their blood are at increased risk of opportunistic infections. Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany’s Guava Auto CD4/CD4% Flow Cytometry System is being used to identify and quantify both absolute CD4 T cell counts as well as CD4% values in blood samples.
In Zambia, more than one in every seven adults is infected with HIV, and life expectancy at birth has therefore already fallen to under 39 years. Organizations such as the Catholic Relief Services and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation have been purchasing the Guava instruments over the past five years for use by the Centre for Infectious Diseases Research in Zambia (CIDRZ). By deploying these devices in provincial CDIRZ labs, the status of patients' immune systems can be monitored using the CD4 test, as soon as HIV is diagnosed. Based on the experiences of these agencies, Zambia’s Ministry of Health has adopted the Guava CD4/CD4% system as one of their approved CD4 testing platforms.
Guava systems are ideal for small clinics because the involved costs as well as the needed materials and manpower are low. The system is easy to use and produces results in 45 minutes.
Currently, there are more than 300 Guava systems in use in Sub-Saharan Africa, 35 of which are in Zambia.