Challenges with Molecular Waste Management in sub-Saharan Africa – HIV Viral Load and COVID

Main Article Content

Shirley Lecher David Bressler Monte Martin


Introduction: Waste generated from HIV viral load testing and SARS CoV-2 for diagnosis of COVID-19 contains potentially hazardous guanidinium thiocyanate. Guanidinium thiocyanate may be toxic to humans and if not properly disposed of can pollute waters and harm aquatic life. Sub-Saharan African countries are particularly challenged by limited resources to suitably manage waste generated at health care facilities and laboratories. There is a need to identify waste management challenges and develop strategies to mitigate this type of laboratory testing waste in resource limited countries.

Methods: HIV viral load data used for this analysis were standardized monitoring evaluation and reporting Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief datasets for Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. COVID-19 data was obtained from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.  

Discussion: Inadequate management of HIV viral load and COVID-19 guanidinium thiocyanate waste due to lack of policy, guidelines and appropriate procedures for containment, poses a significant public health threat to the environment. Recognizing this gap, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has decided to provide technical expertise, raise awareness, and work with other international partners to disseminate knowledge and find solutions for the Presidents Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief supported countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The World Health Organization guidelines on safe management of waste from healthcare activities were proposed as a starting point to develop country specific guidelines.

Conclusions: The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in collaboration with other international partners, is diligently working to provide technical assistance to countries for training and development of mitigation strategies to appropriately manage guanidinium thiocyanate containing waste. Waste management is a growing problem as molecular testing for HIV, COVID-19, and other emerging diseases increase.

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How to Cite
LECHER, Shirley; BRESSLER, David; MARTIN, Monte. Challenges with Molecular Waste Management in sub-Saharan Africa – HIV Viral Load and COVID. Medical Research Archives, [S.l.], v. 12, n. 4, apr. 2024. ISSN 2375-1924. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 27 may 2024. doi:
Research Articles


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