US fund additional $11 million for Xpert TB diagnostics in 14 countries
On 4 December 2012, the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) announced an additional $11 million to provide up to 150 Xpert MTB/RIF instruments and 450,000 test cartridges in 14 high-burden countries across sub-Saharan Africa and in Burma.
The Cepheid Xpert MTB/RIF assay is a new fully automated molecular diagnostic test for tuberculosis disease (TB). It can detect Mycobacterium tuberculosis DNA and mutations associated with rifampicin resistance directly from sputum specimens in less than 2 hours. The assay is more sensitive for detecting TB than sputum-smear microscopy with similar accuracy as culture on solid media. The ability of the Xpert assay to detect smear-negative TB provides a significant advantage over smear microscopy, especially for persons with TB who are also HIV-infected.
These additional resources bring PEPFAR’s investments to-date in Xpert MTB/RIF to more than 275 instruments in high-burden countries. Additionally, in August 2012, PEPFAR and USAID partnered with UNITAID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in an innovative public-private partnership to reduce the cost of Xpert MTB/RIF cartridges by 40% (from $16.86 to $9.98). This partnership also significantly accelerates access to this cutting-edge technology.
PEPFAR press release. United States Government Announces $11 Million in Additional Support for Rapid TB Test in 14 Countries. 4 December 2012.