There is no test currently available which is able to accurately detect HIV infection earlier than 10 days from exposure. In addition to allowing early diagnosis, Rapid HIV Viral Load PCR testing also quantifies the viral load (number of viral copies per mL) which is essential in assessing an HIV-positive person’s prognosis and response to antiretroviral treatment (ART).
The test uses real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) technology to achieve highly sensitive and specific quantification of HIV-1 infection. The system automates and integrates sample preparation, nucleic acid extraction and amplification, and detection of the target sequence in human blood plasma samples.
This allows for safe, accurate, and rapid testing of samples, with results within a few hours.
The Rapid HIV Testing for PCR RNA test will allow much earlier detection of HIV-1 infection following a high-risk exposure, and will also be able to detect seronegative individuals, i.e. persons with HIV infection that do not produce HIV antibodies. Seronegative infections are considered extremely rare. It can also assist in diagnosis in cases of other tests being incongruent or indeterminate, e.g. one positive and one negative serology test, or indeterminate Western Blot testing.
As HIV viral load is reduced by antiretroviral drugs, HIV-positive individuals taking these medications for treatment can use this test to monitor the effectiveness of their ART. However, persons who have presumed HIV-negative and taking ART in the form of Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) or Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) will generally be advised to do serology testing instead of Rapid HIV Viral Load PCR Test, to avoid instances of false-negative results. Serology testing is not affected by ART medications.
What is required of the patient before the test?
From the patient, all that is required for the test is a blood sample drawn from the vein. There is no preparation or fasting required beforehand. Results will be made available between 24-48hours. Testing for other sexually-transmitted or blood-borne infections may also be performed depending on exposure risk and upon consultation with the doctor.