The HIV RNA by PCR test is used to provide a measurement of HIV genetic material in the blood. This is also known as a “viral load test.” HIV RNA testing is often used to determine how actively the HIV virus is reproducing in a person who has been diagnosed with HIV infection. This test can also be used to monitor the status of infection for a patient who is undergoing retroviral therapy or whose HIV infection in a latent period.
HIV, or the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, attacks the immune system by destroying T-Cells. In time, HIV may lead to the development of AIDS. The HIV virus is spread through exposure to infected blood and bodily fluids, usually during sexual contact or intravenous drug use. HIV testing is recommended for anyone who is sexually active, especially those who engage in high risk behaviors. Early HIV infections may display flu-like symptoms, but often show no symptoms at all. HIV infections that go undiagnosed threaten not only the person who is infected but everyone they may potentially spread the virus to.
While this test is not typically ordered as an initial screening, it is ideal for patients who have been diagnosed with HIV and wish to monitor their infection or determine the efficacy of their treatment. This test may be ordered in conjunction with a CD4:CD8 Ratio Profile Test for viral monitoring. For patients who have been recently diagnosed with HIV, testing should be conducted every 2-8 weeks. During long-term retroviral therapy, patients should be tested every 3-4 months or per a doctor’s recommendations. Regular HIV testing can decrease the risk of complications associated with HIV infection and increase a patient’s life span.
Turnaround time for the HIV RNA by PCR test is typically 2-5 business days.
This HIV test can typically detect the virus after a few weeks after a suspected contact or exposure. Some people may be detectable earlier.
This HIV test has no requirements