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Referentielaboratorium voor Hiv/soa

Research Unit

Hoofdorganisatie:Medische Diensten
Tijdsduur:1 jan 1990  →  Heden


The Reference Laboratory HIV/STD is dedicated to disseminating scientific data that promotes and ensures biological sexual and reproductive health.


All people who are sexually active have the right to live a healthy sexual life free of sexually transmitted infections.


  • Consolidate the recognition of the national reference center in Sexually Transmitted Infections.
  • Consolidate the AIDS Refence Laboratory.
  • Consolidate the WHO collaborating center & testing laboratory.
  • Decrease in sexually transmitted infections and HIV at national level.
  • Increase and improve the diagnostic capacity for HIV and STIs at national and international level.
  • Increase the medical and scientific knowledge on STIs and HIV at national and international level.

We aim to:

  • Provide qualitative and evidence based reference services to the national patient population.
  • Provide advice and guidance to the national policymakers.
  • Provide advice and guidance to the national medical and laboratory professionals.
  • Facilitate trainings and workshops among national and international medical, laboratory and scientific professionals.
  • Conduct research related to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
  • Conduct research related to biomarkers of healthy genital tracts.
  • Disseminate scientific data related to sexually transmitted infections, healthy genital tract, and vaginal microbial-microbial and microbial-host interactions.

We have a longstanding expertise in HIV and STI laboratory diagnosis.

The laboratory hosts:

  • A national AIDS reference laboratory (ARL)
  • A national reference center (STI)
  • An international WHO collaborating center for HIV, responsible for the worldwide evaluation of tests for diagnosis and monitoring of HIV infection

The laboratory has been accredited since 2000 and today it has two ISO accreditations, EN 15187:2007 and EN 17025:2005.

Over the years the laboratory team collaborated in a large number of epidemiological studies with considerable scientific output, and provided assistance in the development of national and international guidelines and manuals. Currently the laboratory is partner in Swab2Know and the European EDAT Project, where low threshold and non-invasive HIV testing is performed in the high risk groups.

The laboratory was also an important partner in the very first clinical trials on microbicides such as the multicenter nonoxynol 9 trial (COL-1492) sponsored by UNAIDS. Since then, the laboratory continued its involvement in several projects on vaginal microbicides e.g. cellulose sulphate phase I and phase IIb clinical trials (in collaboration with CONRAD and FHI) or prophylaxis exposure prevention e.g. Truvada phase III trial on the effect of preventive Truvada intake on HIV transmission (FemPrep study, in collaboration with FHI).

Nowadays the laboratory collaborates in the Be-PrEP-ared trial sponsored by FWO. The laboratory is partner in several projects on capacity building for trials of microbicides funded by EDCTP and provides support to IPM (International Partnership on Microbicides).

Currently researchers of the laboratory are leading and collaborating in research projects focused on the vaginal environment in different populations of women especially in adolescents and young women and on the use of PreP in populations at risk for HIV.