Sunday, January 21, 2018
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Molecular Virology Unit

Unit Head
Ozumba Petronilla Jean


Despite availability of effective ART and comprehensive HIV care in sub-Saharan Africa, nearly 50% of HIV infected infants die undiagnosed within two years because of limited definitive early infant diagnostic (EID) capacity. The Institute of Human Virology Nigeria (IHVN) pioneered EID capacity in 2006, under the CDC PEPFAR funding, as a system-strengthening program to support the Government of Nigeria (GON) for better national coverage through development of; infrastructures, technology, trained human resources and quality systems management.

IHVN's molecular diagnostic unit was developed and led by the late Richard Enzama. The unit is now headed by Ozumba Petronilla Jean. Typically the PCR laboratories to support the molecular diagnostics which are developed using a phased assessment of selected facilities to identify gaps in infrastructural, equipment and personnel capacity. This information is then incorporated into the design, renovation of PCR laboratories; procurement and installation of equipment; training and mentoring of laboratory scientists in PCR technology and health workers in Dried Blood Spot (DBS) collection.

The PCR unit is involved in DNA PCR assay for Early Infant Diagnosis (EID) of exposed infants <18 months of age, and viral load assay for targeted group on ARV therapy. These laboratories also provide training to other laboratory personnel in molecular technology.


  1. IHVN has established 11 PCR laboratories but is currently overseeing only seven with automated capacity (see figure). They all support the national EID program
  2. All IHVN supported PCR laboratories participate in the CDC Atlanta proficiency program.
  3. The national EID team (NELT) has piloted the EID laboratory information management system (LIMS) at two laboratories to meet with rapid turn around time.
  4. 36 laboratory scientists and 842 healthcare workers have been trained as trainers in molecular diagnostics.
  5. Blood dot samples tested by IHVN supported PCR facilities have increased from 1,286 tests in 2006 to 27,621 in 2013, cumulatively totalling 120,515 tests, (i.e. 75% of the national total) with an average positivity of 6.4%. A total of 26,963 viral load samples have been tested since 2006. This is likely to increase with the need to monitor viral load for each patient not just for those clinically failing their ARV regimen
  6. Hain molecular line probe assay and the Gene Xpert have been established at the NTBLTC in Zaria for multi drug resistant TB (MDR TB) detection. 3010 sputum samples have been tested since 2009, 134 (4.5%) samples showed Multi drug Resistance to RIF and INH.
  7. PLASVIREC, one of the two EID national reference center coordinates External Quality Assessment (EQA) between CDC Atlanta and all other EID testing laboratories within Nigeria and test a selected number of assayed DBS by other laboratories as part of quality assurance for the country.
  8. There is ongoing preparation for the WHO-Afro Step Wise Accreditation, planning for integration, country ownership and sustainability
  9. IHVN molecular diagnostic unit participates in the National Laboratory Technical Working Group and offers Technical Assistance to Federal Ministry of Health, GON and other Implementing Partners.

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:: Support and Funding

The Institute of Human Virology, Nigeria AITRP Training Programmes are supported and funded by the Fogarty International Center.

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