Virology Laboratory also covers the vital area of HIV Monitoring. The department works closely with hematology and Clinical Chemistry department to afford sound diagnostic information for a variety of medical situations encountered HIV treatment. HIV viral load counts are performed in this department. This is a well-equipped molecular diagnostics laboratory with the Nuclisens Easy Q analyzer with Real Time NASBA based technology as the mainstay of the department. Also in the department are:
The three centrifuges in the viral isolation department are for spinning blood samples to separate plasma from red cells.
Sample handling is performed in biosafety cabinet to protect staff and to avoid contaminating the environment.
Minimag has an maximum carrying capacity of 12microtubes while Easymag has the carrying capacity of 24 samples. They are used for washing silical-bound HIV RNA. Each has a magnet which holds the silica during washing and a vaccum pump which sucks out the wash buffers used for washing. The washing is done using circular motions ranging from 2 to 4 cycles a second. The Easymag has all the steps automated as compared to the minimag which has some manual steps.
Viral amplification uses the Nuclisens Analyzer. This machine does the quantitation of viral copies in each test sample. It does the counting over a period of 60 minutes irrespective of the number of test samples being run. It does a maximum of 48 tests. Each test is run with an internal control that helps validate each result. The number of viral copies is determined by the amount of fluorescent light emitted by the present viral strands.