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CIQAP (Canadian Immunology Quality Assessment Program)

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

CIQAP is the Public Health Agency of Canada’s domestic external quality assurance (EQA) program for CD4+ T cell enumeration, located at the National HIV and Retrovirology Laboratories in Winnipeg, Canada.  CD4+ T cell enumeration by flow cytometry remains an important indicator of a patient’s immune and clinical status, as well as a critical indicator of immune status at time of diagnosis to assess the risk for development of opportunistic infections.

CIQAP provides EQA through administration of proficiency testing (PT) panels and comprehensive corrective and preventative action as required in English, French. The primary objective of CIQAP is to ensure reproducible and accurate T-cell subset measurements by flow cytometry.  

Frequency of distribution: Three fresh whole blood specimens (1.5mL) are sent to each participating lab 6 times per year according to a pre-established shipping schedule. A notification is sent via email to each participant prior to the survey.  The laboratory confirms their participation via email.  Samples are sent by courier via either land or air transportation. 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 also required. For single platform users, this is to be obtained using absolute count beads such as Flow-Count or TruCount.  Absolute count values are to be reported in whole numbers only as cells/µL.

Data collection takes place through a web database platform and statistical results are provided in a performance report to each participant.

Corrective action is a critical component of  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.


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 and laboratories actively performing testing for CD4+ T cell enumeration by conventional flow cytometry.

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