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Afr J Lab Med. 2016 Oct 17;5(2):557. doi: 10.4102/ajlm.v5i2.557. eCollection 2016.

Quality assurance for HIV point-of-care testing and treatment monitoring assays.

Author information

QASI, National HIV & Retrovirology Laboratories, Public Health Agency of Canada, JC Wilt Infectious Diseases Research Centre, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya.
Duke University, Department of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina, United States.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, United States.
Department of Immunology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, United Kingdom.


In 2015, UNAIDS launched the 90-90-90 targets aimed at increasing the number of people infected with HIV to become aware of their status, access antiretroviral therapies and ultimately be virally suppressed. To achieve these goals, countries may need to scale up point-of-care (POC) testing in addition to strengthening central laboratory services. While decentralising testing increases patient access to diagnostics, it presents many challenges with regard to training and assuring the quality of tests and testing. To ensure synergies, the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine held a series of consultations with countries with an interest in quality assurance and their implementing partners, and agreed on an external quality assessment (EQA) programme to ensure reliable results so that the results lead to the best possible care for HIV patients. As a result of the consultations, EQA International was established, bringing together EQA providers and implementers to develop a strategic plan for countries to establish national POC EQA programmes and to estimate the cost of setting up and maintaining the programme. With the dramatic increase in the number of proficiency testing panels required for thousands of POC testing sites across Africa, it is important to facilitate technology transfer from global EQA providers to a network of regional EQA centres in Africa for regional proficiency testing panel production. EQA International will continue to identify robust and cost-effective EQA technologies for quality POC testing, integrating novel technologies to support sustainable country-owned EQA programmes in Africa.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no financial or personal relationships which may have inappropriately influenced them in writing this article.

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