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Uganda Virus Research Institute

REPUBLIC OF UGANDA

General Virology

Mandate

To conduct virological and diagnostic research to generate new knowledge and in support of disease prevention and intervention strategies, studies related to cancers, HIV quality assurance and control as well as participating in capacity building

  • The division deals with human viral infections which are not vector transmitted.
  • Most of the activities conducted currently are dictated by available funding.
  • The department, through its HIV testing reference laboratory supports all the HIV national sero-surveys by performing central level HIV testing as well as associated tests including syphilis serology.
  • We also provide quality control and quality assurance for   surveillance HIV and syphilis at sentinel antenatal care clinics.
  • We support capacity building for both in-service health workers and students through internships

Strengthening Capacity through Improved Management and Coordination of Laboratory, Surveillance and Epidemiology Activities in Uganda under the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief

Objective/Goal

  • To provide PEPFAR support to the Ugandan Ministry of Health in its mission to achieve and monitor the UNAIDS 90-90-90 goals.

PROJECT AREAS

  1. Lab infrastructure
  2. a) Management and coordination of HIV Laboratory External Quality Assessment Schemes
  • UVRI provides proficiency-testing panels to HIV testing personnel in the country every three months to test their proficiency and skills in HIV testing; this is used to identify any need for corrective actions. To improve competence, UVRI trains PT failures in accordance with the nationally approved curriculum and provides on-site support supervision. 
  • External Quality Assurance for CD4 T-cell counting has 343 registered participants that are actively participating in the UKNEQAS scheme. These include both the laboratory-based testing and the point of care testing machine (PIMA).
  1. b) National HTS framework for tester and site certification. This is a national program that will assess using defined tools the standards of HIV testing at laboratories and POCs and the competency of (testers Additionally, it seeks to assure the public that any HIV testing site meets the minimum standards and that the testers therein are competent to provide accurate and reliable results.
  • Site audits verify that testing procedures are in place and followed, results are technically valid, the facility conforms to a quality management system and that only competent staff perform the tests. This program is implemented in collaboration with MOH/CPHL, regional comprehensive IPs and the District Health Teams.
  1. Blood Safety
  • The Uganda Blood Transfusion Services (UBTS) scheme is also implemented by UVRI at the six blood banks in the country. Masaka regional blood bank is currently being refurbished and is not operational. The blood banks are assessed in six areas of proficiency parameters that include, Syphilis, HIV serology, Hep B, Hep C, ABO blood grouping and Rh factor typing.
  1. Strategic Information
  • UVRI collaborates with other institutions in the implementation of surveillance activities such as the annual HIV surveillance at sentinel antenatal clinics (ANC) with MoH; CRANE survey with Makerere University School of Public health; national HIV serosurveys/Impact Assessments with MoH. 
  • Data from key project areas is synthesized for scientific presentations and manuscripts. Presentations are made to national stakeholders and at international meetings, whereas manuscripts in peer reviewed journals. LIMS streamlines the QA/QC information workflow and it offers support to laboratory operations for decision-making by optimizing workflow and data tracking, data management and analysis and by providing flexible data exchange interfaces. 
  1. HIV Drug Resistance (HIVDR).
  • The national HIVDR surveillance activities coordinated by UVRI are in line with WHO guidance and within the national HIVDR prevention, monitoring and surveillance plan. A national HIV Drug Resistance technical working group chaired by [a subject matter expert] provides technical oversight for these activities. We conduct surveys on Early Warning Indicators (EWI) of HIV drug resistance.  UVRI works with MoH/ AIDS Control Program (ACP), HIV treatment centers, other research institutions as well as other partners in the country to generate the required information.
  • HIV drug resistance routine testing is done for patients failing on PI based regimens in collaboration with MRC/UVRI and London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Reference Laboratory for HIV Drug Resistance Genotyping.
  1. There are other virology research conducted at UVRI by the partners on campus especially the MRC/UVRI and LSHTM Uganda Research Unit, for this go to [https://www.mrcuganda.org]

List of Funders

  • Most of the activities in the division of General Virology are supported by US government through PEPFAR
  • Global Fund
  • Medical Research Council (for HIV drug resistance work)
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA for studies on HHV-8 virology and Kaposi sarcoma association.