The Royal College of Pathologists Australasia Quality Assurance Programs (RCPAQAP), have offered dedicated external quality assurance (EQA) for HIV point of care testing (PoCT) since 2011. Prior to this, EQA for these tests was available within the comprehensive human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) module. EQA testing for HIV has typically involved the supply of serum or plasma, while in the clinic or community based settings HIV PoCT is generally performed using whole blood obtained by capillary finger-stick collection. RCPAQAP has offered EQA for HIV PoCT using stabilised whole blood since 2014. A total of eight surveys have been undertaken over a period of 2 years from 2014 to 2015. Of the 962 responses received, the overall consensus rate was found to be 98% (941/962). A total of 21 errors were detected. The majority of errors were attributable to false reactive HIV p24 antigen results (9/21, 43%), followed by false reactive HIV antibody results (8/21, 38%). There were 4/21 (19%) false negative HIV antibody results and no false negative HIV p24 antigen results reported. Overall performance was observed to vary minimally between surveys, from a low of 94% up to 99% concordant. Encouraging levels of testing proficiency for HIV PoCT are indicated by these data, but they also confirm the need for HIV PoCT sites to participate in external quality assurance programs to ensure the ongoing provision of high quality patient care.
- HIV infections
- laboratory proficiency testing
- Point of care testing