Simplifying the Science Behind HIV RNA Tests

A promising young man, full of hope and aspirations took it upon himself to casually visit the hospital for an HIV test since he had not done so in a while. Although he looked as unperturbed as though not expecting something bad to happen, he still felt concerned. Suddenly, a doctor approached him with the HIV test result, out of curiosity; the young man tore the sheet on discovering he is HIV positive. How could this be and what could have happened? These words haunt him as he sobs on the couch, devastated.

This scenario is not uncommon all over the world. Unconfirmed stats show that over the years, the knowledge about the presence of HIV virus in the human system seems to be one factor that kills faster than the virus itself. Be that as it may, the fundamental question still remains: can we because of fear not go for HIV test?

In order to sustain a healthy life, we must, of utmost necessity, take it upon ourselves to visit the hospital for HIV checkup every now and then. By so doing, our good health status and that of others can be safely guaranteed.

This brings us to a particular kind of HIV test necessary to be embarked upon called HIV RNA test. This test is different from every other similar test because it has been developed to detect specific HIV RNA in a person’s bloodstream. The test can be used to estimate the amount of circulating HIV in the human system.

It is important also to draw our attention to the fact that this test is crucial for newborn babies and as a screening method for HIV positive mothers, since maternal antibody may have the tendency to cross the placenta and be present in the newborn.

The HIV RNA test may also be helpful in discovering HIV infections during the first four weeks sequel to exposure (Window Period) before antibodies have had adequate time to develop.

As a matter of fact, HIV RNA test is essentially used to monitor progression in individuals who are already diagnosed with the virus and also provides necessary information about people’s viral loads. Due to the fact that this kind of test is detectable faster than antibodies, many in the United States are quite enthusiastic about the efficiency of Ribonucleic acid (RNA) testing to assist in the diagnosis of primary infection.

HIV RNA Testing Procedure

This procedure is not farfetched as it would require visiting a lab. At this point, a small amount of blood would be taken from the vein. Be that as it may, there is no reason getting worried as the process is practically painless. The test results will be available within 1 to 2 days, or as the case may be.

Rather than having to conduct separate tests for each patient, which would be expensive, the Americans go by way of collecting blood samples from various patients and store them until they are 90 in number before testing. If in the event that the pool tests negative, then it suffices to say that all the samples are considered negative.

On the other hand, if the pool tests positive, then smaller pool of 10 are tested until each of the samples with HIV virus are separated. Smart, easy, and cost-effective indeed.

How Accurate is HIV RNA Testing?

Ribonucleic acid test seeks to find the genetic materials or RNA of HIV in the fluid which is being tested and thus finding it to be accurate, can detect HIV in a very short time after exposure. This test looks for the virus in the blood with window period as short as three days, while majority being detectable within two weeks of exposure. What makes HIV RNA test so accurate is the fact that it looks directly for the presence of HIV, rather than antibodies or antigens which may perhaps give false results.

Facts about HIV RNA Test

  • RNA tests are essentially used to monitor disease progression in an HIV infected individual.
  • The tests are also used to diagnose recent infection.
  • The window period for this test is very short.
  • False positive is common in HIV RNA test.
  • They are used to screen blood donations.
  • HIV RNA test is very common in the US but is not routinely used in the UK.

The Benefits of Taking an HIV RNA Test

It is important to understand that unlike antibody or antigen test, HIV RNA test is a test that not only reveals if a person is HIV positive or not, but is also a qualitative test. In other words, it means that it is the only test that can tell how many of the copies of the virus are there in the human system. At the same time, this test is one of the essential tests for monitoring the progress of the disease and the effectiveness of the treatment. Also, other benefits of HIV RNA test include:

  • Early identification of infected persons may lead to the reduction of risk of transmission.
  • It facilitates partner’s identification, counseling, and testing.
  • Early diagnosis may lead to early initiation of follow up and treatment, thereby leading to a better prognosis.

In conclusion, visiting a lab, getting tested, and discovering one’s HIV status as positive is not the end of the world. Thankfully, scientists have made sufficient research and have been able to come up with substantial heartwarming results that can help people who are infected with the HIV virus to properly manage their lives, helping them to live a long life so far they adhere to proper medical instructions. Thus, with new once-a-day tablets, one can expect to live an almost normal life; consequently, HIV is now considered a non-fatal chronic disease.