Variations in HIV testing, due to the lack of standardization in testing procedures employed at various private laboratories in Tamil Nadu, has deterred many patients from testing their status. Some patients had to grapple with confusing results from different laboratories that swung dangerously between positive and negative.
Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society (TNSACS) has always nurtured the goal of certifying private HIV testing clinics to enable the stamp of trust and reliability.
Many of the reputed HIV testing labs already possess the accreditation. However, many of the privately run testing laboratories do not possess any accreditation.
Supriya Sahu, Project Director, TNSACS, said, "We found that no unique protocol was followed by all private laboratories. They also wanted to learn."
In April 2007, the TNSACS kick started the accreditation process as a pilot project in Madurai, due to the high incidence of HIV infection in certain pockets. This initial phase which spanned 3 months accorded accreditation to 30 laboratories.
The success of the initial phase has encouraged the TNSACS to expand the reach of the accreditation plan to Coimbatore and Tiruchi.
To bring uniformity in the standard of testing in the TNSACS accredited private laboratories, free test kits were provided. Free test kits also made testing affordable to the masses, priced at Rs 75 per test.
Plans are afoot to enable free test kits to more laboratories.