Evaluating turnaround times for early infant diagnosis samples in Kenya from 2011-2014: A retrospective analysis of HITSystem program data

PLoS One. 2017 Aug 10;12(8):e0181005. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0181005. eCollection 2017.


Long turnaround times (TAT) for the processing and posting of results of infant HIV DNA PCR samples can hinder the success of early infant diagnosis (EID) programs. The HITSystem is an eHealth intervention that alerts staff when services are overdue or results are delayed. We conducted a retrospective analysis of 3669 HIV-exposed infants enrolled in 15 Kenya hospital EID programs and three laboratories using the HITSystem from 2011-2014. We assessed mean and median TAT from when a sample was: 1) obtained to when it was shipped to the laboratory, 2) shipped to when it was received at the laboratory, 3) received to when a result was posted, and 4) the total time from obtaining the sample (step 1) to posting the result (step 3). TAT were compared by laboratory, clinic, year, and month of sample collection. 3625 infant samples had results posted by end of 2014. Mean TAT from sample collection to shipping was 5.2 days, from shipping to laboratory receipt was 2.0 days, and from laboratory receipt to result posting was 17.4 days. Altogether, it took an average of 24.7 days from sample collection until result posting. There was significant variation between laboratories, particularly in laboratory processing times (step 3). TAT showed a decreasing trend from 2011-2014, although TAT in December remained higher. Compared with other Kenyan studies, TAT in these HITSystem enrolled settings were shorter. Significant variation between laboratories, however, indicates the need to strengthen protocols and infrastructure to ensure that all laboratories can provide rapid, high-quality services.

MeSH terms

  • Early Diagnosis
  • Gene Products, tat / analysis
  • HIV / isolation & purification*
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis*
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / epidemiology
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / virology
  • Kenya / epidemiology
  • Laboratories / economics
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Specimen Handling / economics
  • Time Factors


  • Gene Products, tat