Antiviral unit (AVU): reference services

AVU provides services for genotypic antiviral resistance testing of HIV and HCV, investigation of HIV transmission events and HSV antiviral resistance testing by phenotyping.

AVU houses a ‘World Health Organisation global specialised HIV drug resistance laboratory’.

Services available

AVU provides reference services for:

  • genotypic resistance testing of HIV (including minority mutant detection)
  • analysis of HIV transmission events for public health-related investigations
  • HIV subtyping and strain characterization by sequencing
  • Hepatitis C virus (HCV) whole genome sequencing
  • Herpes simplex virus (HSV) antiviral resistance testing by cell culture-based phenotyping and genotyping

The HCV whole genome sequencing service (to be launched in late September 2018) provides HCV genotyping and drug resistance analysis in a single test. Please use request form S15 and contact the laboratory on 020 8327 6099 if you require further information.

Other reference and training activities include:

  • organisation of UK external quality assessment for genotypic HIV antiviral resistance testing
  • provision of training in laboratory and clinical aspects of HIV antiviral resistance testing, especially implementation of new assays
  • leading the UK HIV genotypic antiviral resistance working group

Research and surveillance

AVU research and surveillance activities include:

  • development and roll-out of novel genotypic assays for detection of drug resistance in HIV, HCV and HSV including whole genome sequencing
  • development and application of single-cycle phenotypic assays for investigation of HIV drug resistance
  • investigation of the role of accessory mutations in levels of HIV drug resistance and viral fitness
  • surveillance of HIV transmitted drug resistance
  • molecular epidemiology studies of HIV transmission and investigation of early events in HIV transmission

Requesting tests

Please use request forms S9, S15 and S4 when requesting HIV, HCV or HSV antiviral resistance tests, respectively.

For other tests, please contact the laboratory before submitting samples.

Please note: HSV type-specific serology testing is no longer available from PHE Colindale.

For intrathecal HSV antibody testing, please refer to the Immunisation and Diagnosis Unit page.

AVU guidance and forms

Contact AVU

Antiviral unit (AVU)

UK Health Security Agency
61 Colindale Avenue

Telephone 020 8327 6017

Fax 020 8200 1569

DX address DX 6530006 Colindale NW

Published 1 August 2014
Last updated 15 April 2020 + show all updates
  1. Added Herpes Simplex Virus drug susceptibility request form (S4).

  2. Added 'Antiviral resistance testing in the management of hepatitis C virus infection' link.

  3. Updated guidance and added a link to the Immunisation and Diagnosis unit under 'Requesting tests'. Added a link to the S15 request form in the 'AVU guidance and forms' section.

  4. Updated page with details of new services.

  5. First published.