GeneXpert’s benefits still not reaching patients

Monday, June 9, 2014

Despite the widespread rollout of the GeneXpert, a molecular diagnostic test that detects TB and drug-resistant TB within 90 minutes, benefits have not fully trickled down to patients.

The GeneXpert was rolled out nationally in 2011 to replacetraditional TB tests that were slower and less accurate than the GeneXpert but also much cheaper.

The country is currently the largest consumer of GeneXpert testing cartridges in the world.

Since the roll out, the average time between testing and treatment initiation for regular TB patients has dropped from six to four days. Patients with multidrug-resistant (MDR) TB now start treatment 26 days sooner, according to research from the Desmond Tutu TB Centre.

“It is a considerable reduction, but it’s still far from the national target of five days,” said centre researcher Dr Pren Naidoo at a recent meeting of the Human Sciences Research Council.

On average, MDR-TB patients took 16 days to be started on their treatment following the receipt of their same-day GeneXpert results. According to Naidoo, this lag time to treatment puts others at risk of contracting MDR-TB, which comes with a grueling treatment course of about two years.

Source: Health-e (link opens in a new window)

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