Panther viral load testing

Since July 2018, we have partnered with Hologicand the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) to increase access to viral load testing for HIV and hepatitis and diagnostic testing for HPV on the Panther platform. 

The partnership

The partnership is part of Hologic’s Global Access Initiative. Under the Initiative, we are working with Hologic and CHAI to increase access to viral load testing in 14 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

  • MedAccess has provided a volume guarantee to Hologic, meaning we will make up any shortfall in sales.
  • Hologic is the manufacturer of the Panther platform. Under the partnership, Hologic agreed to reduce prices and accelerate supplies to low- and middle-income countries.
  • CHAI supported the formation of the partnership and is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the agreement.

Through the partnership, Hologic agreed to a pricing structure that allows eligible countries to procure tests for a ceiling price of $12 per patient test.

Two people looking at a Panther machine

Development impact

We projected that:

  • Clinical outcomes will be improved for at least 500,000 people.
  • The all-inclusive pricing model will save procurers at least $14 million compared to what would otherwise have been spent on tests.

We reported that by the end of 2021: 

  • 554,000 patients not virally suppressed now identified. 
  • 271,000 patients switched to 2nd line treatment. 
  • 10 countries switched to all-inclusive tender process. 
  • $27m direct procurement savings for governments, donors, and public bodies. 
  • 12 countries now have more than two suppliers of viral load testing. 

How we calculate the impact of this guarantee

Lives changed: impact is based on estimates of the total reach of guaranteed tests and the depth of impact on patients by those tests. The depth factor is derived from the proportion of people receiving a viral load test that will switch to second-line antiretroviral therapy and the HIV-related mortality and disability burdens in Africa.

Money saved: impact is estimated based on actual price reductions achieved throughout the course of the volume guarantee.

Markets shaped: we work with partners, including donors, procurers and ministries of health, to track changes in health markets where our investments are supporting access to products. We monitor for changes to policy, procurement practices and supplier movement, all of which affect markets and contribute to the long-term sustainability of our investments. To quantify change against a baseline, we use publicly available indicators as proxies for market-wide change.

See our development impact page and latest Annual Report for more information.

The Panther viral load testing machine

The product

Hologic’s Panther platform provides fully automated molecular testing. Its sample-to-result automation can run 320 tests in 8 hours, providing health care professionals and patients with faster access to accurate viral load results that can inform treatment decisions.

The Panther platform has the capability to test simultaneously for a range of illnesses. In countries with high rates of coinfection alongside HIV, it can reduce the time patients wait for test results and lead to improved care.

Why we acted


In 2020, there were 1.5 million new HIV cases worldwide and 680,000 people lost their lives to AIDS-related illnesses, making it one of the leading causes of death by an infectious disease. HIV transmission and mortality can be reduced if patients are started on treatments – called antiretrovirals (ARVs) – soon after infection. People living with HIV who consistently take effective ARV regimens can effectively suppress their viral load, which can prevent death, onward transmission and can allow patients to live longer, healthier lives. The WHO recommends routine HIV viral load testing as the “gold standard” for detecting when ARV therapy is failing. However, many patients are not able to access the viral load testing needed to ensure effective treatment. In low – and middle-income countries, the number of viral load tests run in 2019 provided 70% of the coverage projected to meet the needs of patients on ARVs.

Viral hepatitis

Globally, an estimated 350 million people are living with Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C. If untreated, viral hepatitis leads to chronic infection. Approximately 30% of people living with untreated chronic viral hepatitis will develop complications such as cirrhosis or liver cancer. Effective vaccines and treatments exist for both illnesses but access is limited in LMICs. The WHO estimates that in 2019, more than 290,000 people died from Hepatitis C, and 820,000 from Hepatitis B. In Africa, more than 90% of people living with viral hepatitis are undiagnosed fewer than 5% are on treatment.


HPV is the leading cause of cervical cancer, the second most common cancer among women in LMICs. In 2020, there were 604,000 new cases globally, and 342,000 women lost their lives to cervical cancer. About 90% of cases and deaths are in LMICs. Women in LMICs usually seek medical attention for cervical cancer when it is at an advanced stage due to lack of regular screening. This, along with fewer treatment options and high costs in countries where treatment is available, leads to higher mortality.