Guidelines for using HIV testing technologies in surveillance: selection, evaluation and implementation

2009 update

10 June 2010

ISBN 978 92 4 159805 7

As the HIV/AIDS epidemic imposes an ever-larger burden globally, surveillance for HIV becomes more critical in order to understand the trends of the epidemic and make sound decisions on how best to respond to it. This is especially true in low- and middle-income countries, which account for a disproportionate share of new and long-standing infections.

To help countries focus their surveillance activities in the context of their epidemic state (low-level, concentrated or generalized), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) have developed a conceptual framework to improve HIV surveillance, known as Second Generation HIV Surveillance (SGS)1 Guidelines for SGS suggest approaches to make better use of data so that the response to the HIV epidemic can be enhanced. As serosurveillance is an important component of most HIV surveillance activities, an understanding of current HIV testing technologies is important.

In the context of SGS, these guidelines suggest methods for selecting, evaluating and implementing HIV testing technologies and strategies based on a country’s laboratory infrastructure and surveillance needs. The guidelines provide recommendations for specimen selection, collection, storage and testing, and for the selection and evaluation of appropriate HIV testing strategies and technologies to meet surveillance objectives. Quality assurance issues are also addressed.

These technical guidelines are written for HIV surveillance coordinators and laboratory professionals involved in HIV testing for surveillance purposes in low- and middle-income countries. They are part of a series of operational guidelines for SGS systems.

These guidelines were first published in 2001; this revision provides updated information on HIV testing for surveillance.