oa African Journal of Laboratory Medicine - Quality assurance for HIV point-of-care testing and treatment monitoring assays - : lessons from the field

Volume 5 Number 2
  • ISSN : 2225-2002
  • E-ISSN: 2225-2010



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.

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