Early HIV Detection (HIV-1), Qualitative, RNA
The HIV-1, Qualitative, RNA tests for recent exposure as soon as 28 days from exposure. A typical antibody only HIV test is not able to detect infection for as long as 3 months.
HIV is an aggressive viral infection that cannot be cured. There is no vaccine to prevent this virus from affecting the lives of individuals. When it enters the body, it attacks its white blood cells and replicates itself to invade the body. Getting an early HIV RNA qualitative test is essential to detect the virus, even few days post infection. It helps screen for, diagnose, and determine the effectiveness of a given HIV treatment.
Test results may take 2-5 business days.
What is HIV?
HIV, human immunodeficiency virus, is a virus that leads to one of the most dangerous illnesses in the world: AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).
DNA and RNA are large molecules made of numerous smaller molecules called nucleotides. Our DNA, also known as deoxyribonucleic acid, contains our genetic material. They are long molecules made of two strands of bases. Our DNA is contained inside our cells. Every individual has a different sequence of these bases. RNA, also known as ribonucleic acid, is a molecule that is single stranded. It has many important roles in our body, such as coding, decoding, as well as regulating and expressing our genes. Both RNA and DNA are made in our body.
The qualitative RNA test for HIV can measure the amount of HIV genetic material in our blood. This is called the viral load test. When you become infected with HIV, the virus reproduces inside your system: it starts replicating and making copies of itself. One of the most important targets of the HIV are one type of white blood cells, the CD4, that normally fights off infections. Once the virus enters the bloodstream, it penetrates these CD4 cells, using them as a mean to replicate and spread throughout the body. HIV is capable of killing our CD4 cells to take over. So, an increase in HIV cells in our body is reflected by a decrease in the CD4 cells. HIV can spread throughout our lymph nodes, spleen, and other organs and body systems.
When you first get exposed to HIV, you will not have distinctive signs or symptoms to alert you of the infection. But, this does not mean that the virus is not progressing in your system. The longer you go without treatment, the more the virus replicates, and the higher the viral load will be. About 8 weeks post-infection, our immune system begins its production of antibodies to try to maintain HIV. While some symptoms may fade away, the infection will remain lingering, slowly degrading our immune system. The HIV RNA test measures the genetic material associated with the virus. It gives a measure of the levels of the virus that were replicated.
Why take the HIV, Qualitative RNA test?
The early HIV-1 test (RNA test) is the most effective tool to screen, diagnose and determine whether you are infected with HIV, at an early stage. It is also needed to monitor the effectiveness of the prescribed HIV treatments. An infected person needs to get tested 2 to 8 weeks after starting the therapy. Also, every 4 to 8 weeks until the viral load is no longer detected. Then, testing will be needed every 3 to 4 months to make sure the virus is suppressed. The HIV viral load test will monitor changes in your HIV infections and help the health care giver adjust the treatment plan accordingly.
The U.S National Library of Medicine explains that an HIV viral load test is recommended for those who get diagnosed with HIV to assess how the viral infection changed over time. The test is also recommended for those who are at high risks of being infected with HIV. These include men who have sex with men; having sex with an HIV-infected individual; being sexually active with multiple partners; as well as being a drug user that uses needles to inject heroin, for example, or shares the needles with other individuals.
HIV spreads through sexual contact and blood. This infection can also be passes from an infected mother to her child through breastfeeding. Pregnant women need to be tested for this STD to keep the baby safe. The HIV-1 viral load test can detect the infection in as little as a few days after being infected. It is the most preventive measure a person at risk can take to halt the progression of the illness into a much more complicated level.
What can cause the levels to change?
There is no link between the HIV viral load and any other medications. Working out or following a specific diet will not have any effect on your test results.
What your HIV, Qualitative RNA test results mean?
Results for this test may differ between different laboratories. The results are reported as copies per milliliter of blood. The cutoff line is 200 copies per mL.
If your levels were found within the normal ranges; then, you are not infected and there is no sign of the HIV in your system. Low viral load (less than 200 copies/mL) results mean that you do have HIV in your system; but, the virus is not active. This is normally the case of infected people who are following the recommended treatment.
If results show a high viral low; then, the virus is found in your system: it is active and your treatment is not working very well. Keep in mind that the higher the viral load is, the more complications the virus will lead to. High levels, for those under treatment, means that a different treatment plan should be followed. Following the antiretroviral therapy will help an infected person live a normal life. It can also help lower the risks of spreading the illness to others.
You have to understand that there is no cure for HIV or AIDS. The HIV virus is invasive and treatments are necessary to improve the quality of life of infected individuals. Anyone who is HIV positive needs to routinely check with his or her healthcare giver to keep track of the disease.
Where can I get a HIV, Qualitative RNA test near me?
Please use our Lab Locator to find find a convenient testing location.
Choose the test you want (be sure to pick the laboratory you want to use).
Pay by credit card or PayPal®.
You pay directly and we do not bill your insurance.
(Note: to preserve lowest possible per test pricing, a single $10.00 lab fee is applied to one or more blood tests. You will not incur any additional charges at the lab.)
After purchasing your testing you will receive an email with your lab requisition. Bring this form to the laboratory.
NOTE: Be sure to visit the appropriate laboratory!
If you choose LabCorp only visit a
If you choose Quest Diagnostics only visit a Quest location!
No appointment is needed, but making one can minimize your wait time.
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If you have selected the option to have an At Home Test Kit delivered to you, you will receive your test kit in the mail within 5 to 7 business days. (Not all tests are available as At Home Test Kits.)
We’ll email you when your results are ready. Sign into your account to view and download your result reports.
Certain result values may prompt a phone call from our ordering provider to ensure the patient is aware of their result.
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