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Downloadable Data Sets


The Virology Quality Assessment (VQA) Program, through its proficiency testing programs, generates a wealth of data about the performance characteristics of quantitative HIV RNA assays (e.g. intra-assay variation, inter-laboratory variation, differences among kits).
In an effort to share this information, we are making available for download, data sets from multiple "rounds" of HIV-1 RNA proficiency testing carried out through the VQA Program.
These data sets come from proficiency panels sent to laboratories performing HIV-1 RNA assays in support of NIAID studies (e.g. ACTG). Nearly all of the proficiency panels consisted of coded replicates of HIV-1 spiked into normal human plasma at known nominal concentrations from a well-characterized stock. Most of the panels have been assayed with the same kit in multiple laboratories. Many of the panels have been assayed with two or more kits.

Data Sets and Downloading Instructions

  • Links to the data files and a description of the data variables are below. All documents are in Microsoft Excel 97 or PDF format.
  • Each dataset file contains the results from a single round of testing, with identifiers for the participating laboratories and the type of kit used in each laboratory. The data files include results for coded panel specimens and VQA RNA Copy standards included in each panel.
  • Data from 'standard' panels (nominal concentrations >400 copies/mL and <750,000 copies/mL) begin with Panel 009rA (assay date: August 1997)
  • Data from 'ultra-low' panels (nominal concentrations >50 copies/mL and <75,000 copies/mL) begins with Panel 004ruA (assay date: August 1999).
  • The letter suffix, 'A', on the panel name refers to the first round of testing of a given panel. In cases where the same panel has been used more than once, this is indicated by suffixes 'B' (2nd usage), 'C' (3rd usage), etc.
  • Because a given laboratory may receive the same panel more than once, specimen coding is changed between mailings of the same panel to preserve blinding. CAUTION: many of the laboratories that received the same panel more than once (e.g. a 'B' round after an 'A' round) did so because of poor performance on the first round of testing (see vqa.aspx for a description of the testing criteria). Therefore, the data from repeated testing of the same panel in a given laboratory may provide a biased estimate of inter-assay variation.
Questions regarding production and/or composition of the panels should be directed to the VQA Principal Investigator (James W. Bremer PhD) the Laboratory Manager (Cheryl Jennings) for the VQA Program. Questions regarding statistical aspects of the data should be directed to the VQA Statistician (Suzanne Granger).
If you wish to include this data (or derivative analyses) in a publication, please contact the VQA Project Officers (Michael Ussery, PhD and Dawn Bell) at the Division of AIDS, NIAID for permission to do so. Any such publication should acknowledge support from Contract  NO1-AI-85354 from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH.

Links to Data Sets and Description of Variables

Note: When opening any of the files in the tables below, you will be prompted for a password. Click the "Cancel" button, and the files will open.

RNA Panels
RNA Ultra Low Panels

Real-Time RNA


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