A Center of Excellence for Biomedical Research and Training in Africa

Biomedical Research and Training Institute in collaboration with Newlands Clinic introduces viral load monitoring and HIV drug resistance genotyping services in Harare/ Zimbabwe

The goal of ART is to suppress HIV to undetectable levels (VL<50 copies/ml). Due to the current public health systems in place 76.9% of adults and 40.5% of children (National AIDS council Zimbabwe, 2014) in need of ART are receiving treatment. WHO treatment guidelines recommend that patients receive viral load (VL) tests annually to ensure they remain on an effective ART and are not on failing regimens that allow the development of resistant viral strains. HIV Drug Resistance (DR) testing is recommended, in the Guidelines for Antiretroviral Therapy for the Prevention and Treatment of HIV in Zimbabwe, for patients failing second line ART prior to switching to the more expensive 3rd line.  With the prevalence of DR strains increasing in Zimbabwe (The Lancet, TenoRes study), these tests have become more important.

 To address the limited access to VL and HIV DR testing we have made them easily and locally available, at low cost and a quick turnaround time. We generate a list of DR mutations across the protease and reverse transcriptase genes. This highlights the reverse transcriptase and protease inhibitors that are likely to work for the patient. A genotype can help differentiate between treatment failure (due to resistance) and non-adherence. Thus, guiding clinical decisions to manage ART.

Doctors and clinicians may refer patients to Newlands Clinic, where whole blood will be drawn for testing. The samples are processed and results are reported within 2.5 weeks.


Contact Information:


Additional reading:

  1. https://aidsinfo.nih.gov/education-materials/fact-sheets/21/56/drug-resistance
  2. http://www.nac.org.zw/sites/default/files/2013%20Zimbabwe%20ARV%20Guidelines%20%20Main%20Document%20(1).pdf
  3. http://www.bioafrica.net/manuscripts/HIVTB_book_chapter1_HIVresistance.pdf


  1. http://www.nac.org.zw/about/hiv-aids-situation
  2. (2016) Global epidemiology of drug resistance after failure of WHO recommended first-line regimens for adult HIV-1 infection: a multicentre retrospective cohort study. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 16 (5) pp. 565-575. 1016/S1473-3099(15)00536-8.


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With the contributions from a dedicated and professional staff complement, BRTI has achieved  20 years of continuing growth. From its inception in 1995, the BRTI has strived to become a a centre for excellence in health research and training in Africa. We are confident that the philosophy behind the formation of BRTI, that African scientists must take responsibility for improving their own working environment, was correct. We predict that, in spite of a degree of economic uncertainty in Zimbabwe, the gains that have been made during these years can be consolidated and expanded. We look forward to the future with confidence.

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