International and national treatment guidelines recommend the routine use of viral load testing for HIV treatment monitoring. Therefore, many African countries have rolled out the routine viral load testing to achieve the 3rd 90 in the UNAIDS 90-90-90 HIV treatment target. To accelerate the viral load scale up, the African Society for Laboratory Medicine (ASLM) is preparing to launch a new initiative named Laboratory System Strengthening Community of Practice (LabCoP).

What is ASLM’s LabCoP?

ASLM’s LabCoP is a learning network of practicing country teams working together to share information, experiences, and best practices amongst themselves through structured and interactive discussions moderated by a subject matter expert.

The ASLM’s LabCoP allows country working groups to learn from one another along the entire HIV viral load testing cascade: from creating patient and provider demand, to test request, to specimen collection, to transportation, to viral load testing, to the return of results, and finally, to the effective utilization of test results to guide patient management. ASLM’s LabCoP is not about passive learning or exchange of information and knowledge. Instead, it encourages the adoption and use of shared knowledge and experiences to bring about meaningful changes in viral load testing coverage, quality and utilization of test results for better patient management.

Why ASLM’s LabCoP?

The ASLM’s LabCoP would enable countries to build the capacity and experience to reach out professionals located in geographically dispersed places, which in turn favors larger professional networking and career development. It would also create opportunities to consult with peers and identify solutions regarding key challenges in the HIV viral load testing cascade. Moreover, the use of virtual communication technology would leverage scarce resources, including skilled human resource and time. Generally, the viral load scale up program in participating countries would benefit from the exchange of information and experiences about best laboratory practices for improved patient care. In the long term, these would contribute to a stronger laboratory system for HIV care and beyond.

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