National Reference Laboratory for HIV/AIDS
29. February 2012
The laboratory is accredited as a test laboratory to ČSN EN ISO/IEC 17025 and as a public health laboratory to ČSN EN ISO 15189 by the Czech Accreditation Institute.
- provides methodical guidance to the field laboratories authorized to perform screening for HIV infection. It organizes one-day training for the laboratory staff whose completion is one of the prerequisites for obtaining the authorization of the Chief Public Health Officer of the Ministry of Health of the Czech Republic to perform HIV testing and also organizes regular training in HIV/AIDS diagnosis for the field laboratory staff;
- formulates principles of the HIV/AIDS testing policies and guidelines for the procedures for laboratory diagnosis of HIV/AIDS, including preventive testing in blood donors and pregnant women. It prepares test samples for the External Quality Assessment Scheme (EQAS) and analyzes the EQAS results achieved by more than 160 field laboratories whose participation in the EQAS is obligatory;
- performs HIV confirmatory testing for the subjects who were reactive when tested for HIV in field laboratories in the Czech Republic, including those of the Blood Transfusion Service. It has been involved in the virological safety testing of blood and blood products intended for use in human medicine. It detects new HIV/AIDS cases and obtains and designs reference panels of HIV-positive and -negative sera suitable for use in the quality control of commercial diagnostic kits;
- follows up HIV/AIDS progression in HIV-infected individuals using molecular assays for the identification of the viral nucleic acids, determines viral load in HIV-positive individuals, and performs antiviral susceptibility testing. NRL performs HIV-1 subtyping of viral strains isolated in the Czech Republic for the needs of molecular epidemiology;
- monitors mother to child transmission of HIV and any child born to a HIV-positive mother is followed up for HIV until the age of 18 months, follows up occupational exposure to HIV in healthcare professionals as a result of accidental injury, and tests archived donor blood samples from blood donors who became HIV positive and pose risk of HIV transmission via contaminated blood products;
- performs HIV/AIDS surveillance among the exposed population groups (streetworkers engaging with commercial male and female sex workers and intravenous drug users - IDUs);
- provides accessible, free and anonymous HIV/AIDS testing to individuals engaging in high-risk behaviour who are unable to pay for testing (clients of the Lighthouse, Pleasure without Risk, civic association, Sexuology Institute, AIDS Centre of Bulovka University Hospital);
- carries out epidemiological surveillance of HIV/AIDS in the Czech Republic (statistical analysis of data from the HIV/AIDS reporting system and submission of results to the European Surveillance System (TESSy) at the ECDC and WHO.
- issues monthly progress reports on HIV/AIDS incidence and testing methods in the Czech Republic for the needs of the Ministry of Health and other organizations and selected progress diagrams are published monthly on websites;
- provides pregraduate and postgraduate training and education for health care professionals and lectures on HIV/AIDS (training courses for teachers at different schooling levels, HIV/AIDS counselling courses, etc.). Engaged in publication activities;
- participates in the international quality control schemes of the Institute for Standardization and Documentation in Medical Laboratories INSTAND e.V., Society for Promoting Quality Assurance in Medical Laboratories, Düsseldorf, Germany and Quality Control for Molecular Diagnostics (QCMD).