Global Fund takes action to reduce cost of viral load test

18 June 2015
Access to antiretroviral (ARV) treatment in Botswana

Good news for HIV treatment monitoring from The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (The Global Fund), the largest funder of the international HIV response. The Global Fund is taking action to make viral load testing more accessible. These crucial tests check that people are taking the correct HIV treatment, and are prohibitively expensive in many countries. The Global Fund has teamed up with seven manufacturers of the test to bring down the cost.

Viral load testing measures the amount of HIV in the blood. The aim of antiretroviral treatment is to keep the viral load as low as possible. Treatment monitoring is now recommended to be based on viral load, rather than CD4 count (measure of how HIV has affected the immune system), which is much more commonplace. This is because it provides more accurate results and can encourage treatment adherence if people see their level of virus decreasing.

It is hoped that the Global Fund’s agreements with manufacturers will ensure a set price for viral load tests for their partners working on the ground. Prices currently vary widely, sometimes costing as much as $85 per test. This new initiative aims for $15 inclusive of all costs. This will enable much higher levels of testing for people living with HIV, ensuring their treatment is as effective as possible.

Photo credit:
©WHO/ Eric Miller