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Jan 8, 2003

New equipment will improve HIV care

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Dealing with the AIDS crisis takes place on many levels. While major efforts focus on education for prevention, steps are also being taken to improve the effectiveness of treatment. News 5′s Jacqueline Woods sat in on one session this morning that trained lab technicians on a new device that will prolong Belizean lives.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

The machine helps doctors and their HIV patients know if their treatments are working.

Eugenia Quesada, Specialist, BD Bio Sciences Product

“The HIV virus lives inside the CD4 positive cells, that is the CD4 positive or T helpers. So as the HIV virus multiplies, the CD4 cells will die, and that is why your CD4 counts will go down. So, if the treatment is working, the HIV virus will be dying before infecting new CD4 positive cells or T helpers. So that is why your CD4 count will remain the same or increased a little bit if the treatment is working. As soon as the treatment starts failing, your CD4 count will go down as well.”

Eugenia Quesada is a specialist in the operation of equipment like this Beaton Dickinson CD4 Monitoring machine that was donated by the Japanese Government to the Belize Government. In the past two days, Quesada has been training four technicians at the Central Medical Laboratory to use the device, which will make life easier for the nation’s growing number of AIDS patients. Although many samples can be prepared for the test, only one sample at a time can be put into the instrument. It takes about two hours for each test to be completed. Serologist Leona Garbutt says having the machine available in Belize will save the time and money now spent sending test samples all the way to Canada.

Leona Garbutt, Serologist, Central Medical Lab

“Some of the patients come all the way from the districts and they would have to come maybe from P.G or from Dangriga, come all the way in Belize City so that their samples are taken together and packaged and sent in time to reach a lab within twenty-four to forty-eight hours to get tested. After that time period, the sample is no longer good. So quite a few times we would get back a report from the lab saying that the sample reached too late and then the patient would need to come back again and take another sample and get it tested. The CD count again.”

While the new equipment does not provide a cure for the HIV virus, it will help patients live longer by better managing the treatment of the disease. Jacqueline Woods for News 5.

The training session was completed today.


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