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TB testing has a new friend

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The revolutionary LAM test, which checks for TB bacteria in HIV-positive patients, uses a similar strip to those used in HIV and pregnancy tests Picture: Emile Hendricks
The revolutionary LAM test, which checks for TB bacteria in HIV-positive patients, uses a similar strip to those used in HIV and pregnancy tests Picture: Emile Hendricks

Government has lauded the successful testing of a tool which uses urine to find out if an HIV-positive patient also carries tuberculosis (TB) bacteria. It yields results much faster than the traditional method of sending sputum to a laboratory. Hence, treatment can be initiated without delay.

The testing method is being rolled out nationally following pilot programmes conducted at various hospitals, namely Umlamli and Cofimvaba hospitals in the Eastern Cape; and Murchison and Church of Scotland hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal.

Dr Vuyo Yokwe, a general practitioner and clinical manager at Umlamli Hospital in Sterkspruit, said the national and provincial health departments appointed these four hospitals to pilot the Lipoarabinomannan (LAM) test. LAM is the protein found in the urine of patients when TB bacteria cells break down.

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