In November 1995, the National Science and Technology Council and the Department of Health under the leadership of Dr. Evelyn Grace Gacad as HIV Program Manager, identified the need for a central facility for STD and HIV/AIDS. Consequently, a Memorandum of Agreement was signed in March 1996 by the Philippine Secretary of Health, Dr. Carmencita Reodica and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Chief of Project Support Committee, Dr. Akira Oya for a 5 year project - Technical Assistance to the Government of the Philippines with the main objective to strengthen the prevention and control of STD and HIV/AIDS in the Philippines. Since one of the components of the project is the establishment of a central laboratory for STD’s and HIV/AIDS, the STD AIDS Cooperative Central Laboratory (SACCL) was established in October 1996 at the former US Naval American Research Unit (NAMRU) building, San Lazaro Hospital Compound. This structural facility was renovated and completely equipped thru the assistance of JICA. Local SACCL personnel were sent to Japan for training while Japanese experts came to SACCL to assist the local staff in setting up the laboratory facility. Finally, in June 1997, SACCL started to be fully operational.

Before the project ended in 2001, SACCL was designated as the National Reference Laboratory for HIV/AIDS and other STIs (Department Order No. 393-E s.2000) with the following mandates:

  • 1. Confirmatory Services
  • 2. Training
  • 3. External Quality Assurance Program
  • 4. Kit Evaluation
  • 5. Surveillance

On September 8, 2014, the National Reference Laboratory-San Lazaro Hospital/STD AIDS Cooperative Central Laboratory (NRL-SLH/SACCL) was accredited by the Philippine Accreditation Bureau of the Department of Trade and Industry as compliant with the PNS ISO 15189:2013 (AMEL-1-0914-006A).