Development of a United Kingdom National External Quality Assessment Scheme (UK NEQAS) for HIV point of care testing
University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, UK
30 Jun 2010
20 Jan 2011
1 Mar 2011
HIV, POCT, EQA, point of care
The use of HIV point of care tests (POCTs) is increasing rapidly in both laboratory and other settings. These tests are often performed by non-laboratory trained staff. At the present time there are no external quality assessment (EQA) providers in the UK offering proficiency testing schemes for HIV point of care testing. The aim of this study is to develop such an EQA scheme. Firstly, a selection of the most widely used POCTs was selected and their performance assessed using existing HIV-positive serology EQA specimens. All assays produced the correct results however intensity of results observed for the same specimen differed greatly between POCT devices. In addition the effect of various sub-groups of HIV-1 serum samples on the HIV POCT assays was investigated and no difference between the results on the POCTs was observed. Ultimately four serum specimens, two HIV-1 and one HIV-2 positive, one HIV negative, were chosen and sent to NHS laboratories and sexual health clinics for testing as part of a pilot EQA scheme for HIV POCT. Results were excellent with 97% of participants reporting correct results (n= 20). The study highlighted a lack of awareness of EQA particularly in non-laboratory settings, although recommendations (ISO 22870:2006) are in place for the users of such devices. In conclusion, the need for EQA for providers of point of care testing is an integral part of ensuring reliability of results and quality of care for the patient.