Researchers from the Center for Global Health are investigating integrating tests for type 2 diabetes and blood pressure into screening for HIV.
The challenges of solely testing and treating HIV include poor attendance at screening clinics due to the stigmatism associated with the condition. By combining a test for type 2 diabetes and blood pressure as well could drive up the numbers of people being tested for all three conditions.
This is useful on a global scale as many countries have high numbers of people that remain undiagnosed for these conditions.
The project, which has been made possible thanks to a $3.1 million (£2.4m) grant from the National Institute of Health, will look at the effectiveness of combining the checks in terms of success and cost. It comes on the back of a previous pilot project, which has already demonstrated a rise in HIV testing.
Professor Michael D. Sweat, who is professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina and director of the Center for Global Health, is leading the research.
Sweat, who has studied ways to increase HIV screening and improve care in Tanzania since 1994, said: “Global health is everyone’s health. The greatest burdens of disease in the world – HIV, diabetes, and hypertensio, among others – know no borders. This grant will enable us to discover better and more efficient ways to address these threats to health, no matter where they arise.”
The Department of Bioengineering at Clemson University, in South Carolina, which has experience of developing low-cost health technology for Third World countries, will also be involved in the study.
Dr Delphine Dea, Gregg-Graniteville Associate Professor of Bioengineering at Clemson University, will develop low-cost, diagnostic devices.
Dean recently created a blood glucose meter designed to print test strips on an inkjet printer. She said: “The lack of medical equipment, devices, and tests in resource-poor areas such as rural Tanzania limits clinicians’ ability to diagnose and treat. By working together, we can improve accessibility to technology and improve global health.”
A team at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences will also provide clinical services and collaborate on data collection and analysis.
Professor Jessie Mbwambo, professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health at Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, added: “We believe that by integrating diabetes and hypertension care with HIV care we can likely improve health in all these domains much more effectively and at a lower cost.”

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