The HIV PCR Test, also known as a “viral load test”, can be used as an early detection screening for HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). HIV is a virus which attacks the immune system by destroying T-cells. In time, HIV may lead to the development of AIDS.
This test looks for viral DNA which is normally detectable sooner than the antibodies which develop in response to an infection. An HIV-1 Abs test is included at no additional charge to provide comprehensive HIV testing for recent exposures as well as those which may have occurred years ago.
HIV is spread through exposure to infected blood and bodily fluids, primarily through sexual contact and the sharing of needles during intravenous drug use. HIV infections often show no symptoms. When symptoms do occur they are typically described as flu-like.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has reported that 1 in 4 people with HIV are not aware they are infected. Undiagnosed HIV cases threaten not only the person infected, but everyone they may potentially spread the virus to. Testing for HIV can assist in early diagnosis and treatment. With effective treatment, HIV patients have a much improved chance of living a normal lifespan.
HIV screening is recommended for anyone who is sexually active but especially those who engage in high risk behaviors such as sexual contact with multiple partners and intravenous drug use. Anyone who learns that a past or present partner has tested positive for HIV should receive an HIV test themselves. Prenatal testing for HIV is recommended for pregnant women due to the risk of passing the infection to their baby. Early detection is key to effective HIV treatment, so it advisable to be tested even if you are not experiencing symptoms.
Because the HIV PCR test provides screening for both recent and past exposure, this test is ideal for patients who desire an HIV test but are uncertain if they are far enough past exposure for an HIV Abs test to be accurate. As a thorough, highly accurate test which provides both viral and antibodies perspectives, the HIV PCR test may also be used as a screening at any point after exposure, even if a person is not specifically concerned about a recent exposure.
Turnaround time for this test is typically 2-5 business days.
The complex HIV-1 PCR test is most accurate at 28 days or more from a suspected contact or exposure. Some people may be detectable earlier.
This HIV testing does not have any special requirements.HIV Testing Overview