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About Our HIV RNA Test
*Please note that while most tests take 1 to 3 business days to return results, the HIV RNA test is a specialized test, therefore results may take 2 to 4 business days*
The HIV RNA test is used for early detection of HIV. Compared to standard HIV tests which measure antibodies your body produces to fight HIV, the HIV RNA test detects the genetic material of the virus itself. The HIV RNA test determines if you are reactive (indicating a positive result) or non-reactive (indicating a negative result).
The recommended window period for the HIV RNA test is:
- 9-11 days post potential exposure.
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that attacks immune cells in the body and it can lead to AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome). As the virus replicates, it compromises the body’s ability to fight off infection. HIV is spread through sexual intercourse, as well as blood-related methods like intravenous drug use.
The HIV RNA test will detect HIV 1 genetic material in the blood sample. HIV-1 is the most common strain of the HIV virus found in the U.S. HIV-2 is not widely seen outside of Africa.
Because it takes time for detectable antibodies to develop, the HIV RNA test reduces the time between infection and detection to help diagnose an HIV infection sooner than the HIV 4th Generation test. The HIV RNA test is the most accurate and sensitive HIV test on the market and is the only FDA-approved early detection HIV test.
Is the HIV RNA test conclusive?
If taken at the recommended window period, the HIV RNA test is highly accurate, so you can have confidence in your results. The HIV RNA test is around 95-99% accurate starting around 9-11 days post exposure and will stand at about 99% accuracy around 28 days post exposure.
What are HIV symptoms?
Many people who have HIV may not experience symptoms weeks, months, or years after infection. According to the CDC, nearly 40% of new HIV infections are transmitted by people unaware they have the virus. Symptoms may start out mild and flu-like. While the viral load of HIV in the blood increases, the individual’s CD4+ (the T-cell or white blood cell) count will start to fall. This makes the individual vulnerable to infections and opportunistic illnesses like tuberculosis and candidiasis.
Common early HIV symptoms include:
- Sore throat
- Nausea and vomiting
- Chills and night sweats
- Pain in joints and muscles
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Ulcers on genitals or in mouth
If left untreated, HIV can develop into AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome), in which irreparable damage has been done to the immune system and the body lacks the ability to fight off infections.
AIDS symptoms include:
- Weight loss
- Oral thrush (Thick, white coating on tongue and mouth)
- Skin rashes
- Prolonged swelling of lymph nodes
- Chronic, persistent diarrhea
- Recurring fever
- Confusion and forgetfulness
- Chills and night sweats
- Shortness of breath
Is there a cure to HIV?
Although there is currently no cure for HIV, HIV treatment has improved drastically, and HIV-positive people are able to live longer and healthier lives. Knowing your status can help put you on the right track to getting antiretroviral therapy (ART) sooner. This medication can minimize damage to the immune system by slowing the advancement of HIV into AIDS.