To ensure the effectiveness of an antiretroviral treatment monitoring programme, all Human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) viral load laboratories are required to ensure the quality of their diagnostic results. Quality assurance (QA) in any medical laboratory refers to the overall programme designed to ensure accurate, consistent results that are delivered in a timely manner. QA procedures can be divided into pre-analytical, analytical and post-analytical components, mirroring the different phases in the testing procedure where different types of errors and measurement uncertainty emanate from. Although general QA procedures will also apply to HIV-1 viral load laboratories, there are some unique considerations not found in other disciplines of laboratory medicine. This review aims to provide a basic overview of quality assurance in the HIV-1 viral load laboratory.
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