This year ICOHRTA's workshop brought together local and international experts in HIV, TB and Malaria research as well as molecular diagnostics. The aim of the workshop was to update the participants on the current trends in the application of molecular diagnostic tools in the diagnosis and monitoring of HIV/ AIDS and its co-morbidities in resource limited settings.
Some of the institutions represented in the faculty included Stanford University, BRTI, SATuRN, African Institute of Biomedical Science and Technology (AiBST), National Microbiology Reference Laboratory (NMRL), University of Zimbabwe, Africa University, National AIDS and TB Unit, CDC Zimbabwe, Lancet South Africa, Cepheid South Africa and Africa Centre for Health and Population Studies/SATuRN. Twenty participants from various public and private academic institutions, diagnostic companies from Zimbabwe and Zambia. They were drawn from various disciplines including Clinical Medicine, Biomedical Science, and Public Health.
The first day of the workshop mostly updated the participants about the HIV/AIDS epidemic with reviews of the epidemics in Africa and the US as well as clinical care and antiretroviral therapy in Zimbabwe. Dr. De La Cruz from Stanford University also introduced the participants to more participatory aspects of the workshop that involved journal club presentations. Everyday of the workshop the participants reviewed and presented papers that highlighted some of the most important aspects of molecular diagnostics, from technologies to applications.
Day two started with a glimpse into the development pipeline of the molecular diagnostic company Cepheid highlighting among other future products, the GenXpert based point of care viral load test. As the day progressed, the focus shifted to issues related to pediatric treatment and prevention of mother to child transmission (PMTCT). These included discussions on pediatric AIDS and drug resistance, progress made in the decentralization DBS testing for early infant diagnosis in Zimbabwe, the treatment programmes for children at the two largest central hospitals in Zimbabwe, barriers to provider-initiated testing and counseling for children, surveillance of pediatric drug resistance and point of care monitoring.
Day three was dedicated to advances in the diagnosis and drug resistance for TB, Malaria and cryptococcal meningitis. The talks included general overviews of the TB and Malaria epidemics in Zimbabwe, updates on various public health programmes to control the epidemics as well as new diagnostics for malaria as well updates on TB drug susceptibility testing.