Purpose of review
In 2015, the WHO urged countries to provide ART to all people living with HIV, irrespective of their CD4+ cell count, this new recommendation supports the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS elimination targets. However, to meet these aims, urgent scale-up of viral load testing is critical. The multiple interventions in the healthcare system required to support scale-up of viral load testing are reviewed here.
It is estimated that 18.2 million individuals are accessing antiretroviral therapy, consequently this will cause significant demand for viral load monitoring; however, at the current rate of implementation, demand will not meet the required target by 2020. To change this trajectory, multiple stakeholders must be involved, communities and key populations need increased treatment literacy to create demand and greater numbers of healthcare workers will require training. In addition, laboratories and point-of-care testing sites will need to be expanded, and adequate monitoring and evaluation tools will need to be put in place to identify gaps in the system, to institute prompt corrective actions and to direct resources where needed.
Sufficient scale-up of viral load may well be possible if innovations in mHealth are used to support healthcare workers and patients with regard to the scale-up and effective use of viral load monitoring; new laboratory technologies are implemented, both at a centralized level and point-of-care, to manage higher volumes and improve coverage; and there is careful coordination between implementing partners and funders.