With thousands of consumers expected to receive free HIV testing on National HIV Testing Day, June 27, COLA, a national laboratory accreditor and an advocate for quality in laboratory medicine and patient care, is offering guidelines to personnel who will perform certain easy-to-administer tests at health facilities, substance abuse centers, family planning organizations, select Walgreen pharmacies and other entities throughout the U.S.
Under federal laboratory quality guidelines, “waived tests” are simple tests performed at the point-of-care, which are exempted from most federal rules governing lab testing. These tests are judged to be so easy to perform that they can be administered by those with minimal training. Some HIV testing systems now fall under the “waived” category.
“While the HIV test may be fast and easy to administer, it is still critically important that providers be mindful of quality measures when performing it and other increasingly common waived tests,” said Douglas Beigel, Chief Executive Officer of COLA. “Failure to do so could result in inaccurate results that could negatively impact patient care.”
Beigel recommended that test providers adhere to the following guidelines when performing HIV and other waived tests:
- Ensure testing personnel have proper training on the test procedure, including the collection of the specimen
- Follow all test kit manufacturers’ instructions, including for confirmatory testing when the screen test is positive
- Regularly check package inserts for any changes to information
- Perform Quality Control testing as specified by manufacturers’ instructions
- Document the name, lot number, and expiration dates for any tests performed
About National HIV Testing Day
National HIV Testing Day is part of an annual campaign to encourage people of all ages to be tested for HIV. While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all Americans be routinely screened for HIV, many adults have never been tested, or are tested too infrequently according to national surveys. More than 1.2 million people are living with HIV in the U.S., and an estimated one in seven does not know that they are infected. For more information, visit http://www.cdc.gov/features/hivtesting/.