18 January 2017 - Following the conclusion of the USAID SMART TA project, USAID SHIFT continued a one-year effort to provide technical support to 19 laboratories in three PEPFAR priority provinces (six labs in Dien Bien province, six in Nghe An province, and seven in Ho Chi Minh City) so that they could gain certification for conducting HIV confirmatory testing. In collaboration with Provincial AIDS Centers (PACs), USAID SHIFT provided quarterly and monthly on-site technical assistance to help the laboratories develop a documenting system, review their logs and records, design the workflow and testing process, and evaluate staff capacity. The laboratories also received guidance on how to complete their required profiles in preparation for submitting certification dossiers to the Vietnam Administration for HIV/AIDS Control (VAAC). The first two laboratories, Muong Nhe and Muong Lay in Dien Bien, passed the certification assessment conducted at the end of December by the Ministry of Health, VAAC and the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology. They are expected to receive their certificates this month (January). Bringing confirmatory testing to the district level helps accelerate access to HIV test results, reduces the risk of specimen loss in transit, smooths the transition from testing to treatment and reduces loss to follow-up. Closing the gap in this component of the continuum of prevention to care is a critical step towards achieving 90-90-90 targets. Moving forward, the MOH plans to conduct certification assessments for the remaining four laboratories in Dien Bien, four in Nghe An and all seven in Ho Chi Minh City after the Lunar New Year (February), expanding the benefits of district confirmatory testing in priority provinces and taking significant steps towards a sustainable national HIV response.