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BACKGROUND: CD4 testing is, and will remain an important part of HIV treatment and care in low and middle income countries (LMICs). We report the findings of a systematic review assessing acceptability and feasibility of POC CD4 testing in field settings. METHODS: Electronic databases were searched for studies published in English between 2005 and 2015 that describe POC CD4 platforms. Studies conducted in LMICs and under field conditions outside a laboratory environment were eligible. Qualitative and descriptive data analysis was used to present the findings. RESULTS: Twelve studies were included, 11 of which were conducted in sub-Saharan countries and used one POC CD4 test (The Alere Pima CD4). Patients reported positively regarding the implementation of POC CD4 testing at primary health care and community level with >/=90 % of patients accepting the test across various study settings. Health service providers expressed preference toward POC CD4 testing as it is easy-to-use, efficient and satisfied patients' needs to a greater extent as compared to conventional methods. However, operational challenges including preference toward venous blood rather than finger-prick sampling, frequent device failures and operator errors, quality of training for test operators and supervisors, and increased staff workload were also identified. CONCLUSIONS: POC CD4 testing seems acceptable and feasible in LIMCs under field conditions. Further studies using different POC CD4 tests available on the market are required to provide critical data to support countries in selection and implementation of appropriate POC CD4 technologies.
Funding was provided by the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC) (Project grant GNT 1063725 and Career Development Fellowship to Stanley Luchters; Principle Research fellowship to Suzanne Crowe). Minh D. Pham received support via an International Postgraduate Research Scholarship (IPRS) from the Commonwealth of Australia and the Victorian International Research Scholarship (VIRS) from State Government of Victoria, Australia. The donor had no involvement in the design of the study; collection, analysis, interpretation of data, or the writing and submission of this manuscript.