CIQAP (Canadian Immunology Quality Assessment Program)

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Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
National Laboratory for HIV Immunology
(204) 789-6479
(204) 318-2221
Six times a year

CD4 cell count measurement is an accurate predictor of disease status. The primary objective of CIQAP is to ensure reproducible and accurate T-cell subset measurements by flow cytometry.  The NLHI manages the entire CIQAP and provides remedial action and assistance to the laboratories when required in both official languages.

Three whole blood specimens are sent to each participating lab.  Two samples are HIV positive and one is HIV negative.  The participants receive 1.5 mL vacutainer tubes of each sample. All samples are to be processed as routine blood specimens for leukocyte phenotyping upon arrival, and must be handled according to laboratory biosafety guidelines. 

Each laboratory is required to report lymphocyte T-cell subset percentages of CD3+, CD3+CD4+ and CD3+CD8+.  Absolute count values are to be measured by single platform method based on absolute count beads such as Flow-Count or TruCount.  Absolute count values are to be reported in whole numbers only as cells/µL.

Each laboratory is given 7 to 8 working days to submit their results.  Results are submitted electronically on the CIQAP website (  Each participating laboratory is given a unique user name and password to submit their results confidentially.  Data must be submitted prior to the database closing date outlined in the instructions provided with the samples. 

A performance report is provided for each participant within five days of closing date.  This report is available on the CIQAP website and is accessible confidentially to the participant who can log in using their unique user name and password.  Past performance reports are also available on the site.  

Corrective action is a critical component of the CIQAP.  Participants are contacted with requests for electronic files and a copy of their flow cytometry printouts for analysis when further investigation is required and guided in corrective actions needed for improvement.  Due to the interactive nature of the program, participants are encouraged to communicate any concerns to the quality improvement team.

Frequency of distribution: The quality assessment material is distributed six times a year according to a pre-established shipping schedule.  A notification is sent via email to each participant three weeks prior to the survey.  The laboratory confirms their participation via the CIQAP website.  Samples are sent by courier using land or air transportation depending on the location of the laboratory in Canada. 


The primary objective of CIQAP is to ensure reproducible and accurate T-cell subset measurements by flow cytometry.


There is no fee to enrol or participate in the CIQAP program. 

Eligibility criteria for participation:

Eligible participants are those hospitals/laboratories actively performing testing for CD4 enumeration.

Confidentiality arrangements:

Confidentiality of testing results and performance is maintained using a password protected online database and numerical laboratory IDs to distinguish testing sites.

How to apply:

To apply to participate in the CIQAP program please contact