Field Performance and Diagnostic Accuracy of a Low-Cost Instrument-Free Point-of-Care CD4 Test (Visitect CD4) Performed by Different Health Worker Cadres among Pregnant Women

Stanley Luchters, Aga Khan University
Karl Technau, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
Yasmin Mohamed, Burnet Institute, Australia
Matthew F. Chersich, Ghent University, Belgium
Paul A. Agius, Burnet Institute, Australia
Minh D. Pham, Burnet Institute, Australia
Mary L. Garcia, Burnet Institute, Australia
James Forbes, Omega Diagnostics, Ltd. Scotland
Andrew Shepherd, Omega Diagnostics, Ltd. Scotland.
Ashraf Coovadia, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa


Measuring CD4 counts remains an important component of HIV care. The Visitect CD4 is the first instrument-free low-cost point-of-care CD4 test with results interpreted visually after 40 min, providing a result of ≥350 CD4 cells/mm3. The field performance and diagnostic accuracy of the test was assessed among HIV-infected pregnant women in South Africa. A nurse performed testing at the point-of-care using both venous and finger-prick blood, and a counselor and laboratory staff tested venous blood in the clinic laboratory (four Visitect CD4 tests/participant). Performance was compared to the mean CD4 count from duplicate flow cytometry tests on venous blood (FACSCalibur Trucount). In 2017, 156 patients were enrolled, providing a total of 624 Visitect CD4 tests (468 venous and 156 finger-prick samples). Of 624 tests, 28 (4.5%) were inconclusive. Generalized linear mixed modeling showed better performance of the test on venous blood (sensitivity = 81.7%; 95% confidence interval [CI] = 72.3 to 91.1]; specificity = 82.6%, 95% CI = 77.1 to 88.1) than on finger-prick specimens (sensitivity = 60.7%; 95% CI = 45.0 to 76.3; specificity = 89.5%, 95% CI = 83.2 to 95.8; P = 0.001). No difference in performance was detected by cadre of health worker (P = 0.113) or between point-of-care versus laboratory-based testing (P = 0.108). Adequate performance of Visitect CD4 with different operators and at the point of care, with no need of electricity or instrument, shows the potential utility of this device, especially for facilitating decentralization of CD4 testing services in rural areas.