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Practo

Diagnostic Tests

Hiv 1 Rna Quantitative Rt-Pcr Blood

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Hiv 1 Rna Quantitative Rt-Pcr Blood

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What is this test?

HIV-1 RNA Quantitative RT-PCR blood test measures the viral load which is the amount of HIV genetic material i.e RNA present in the blood. This test is used to assess the prognosis and to monitor the progression of HIV-1 infection in the body. This test is also helpful in evaluating the effectiveness of antiretroviral treatment.

What is HIV?

HIV is the abbreviated form of human immunodeficiency virus. As the name indicates it is a viral infection which leads to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). AIDS can be caused due to either HIV-1 or HIV-2 infection. HIV-1 is the most widely spread virus all over the world. Whereas HIV-2 is prevalent in certain regions like France, West Africa, Portugal, and India. The HIV-2 infection has a slower rate of disease progression when compared to HIV-1 infected individuals. If the individual is infected with HIV, the virus gets replicated by making many copies of itself. The main targeted cells for HIV infection is CD-4. CD-4 cells are a type of white blood cells and help in fighting infections. The virus replicates and spreads all over the body, mostly it gets spread into lymph nodes and spleen. In most cases, the HIV infection remains asymptomatic in early stages of the infection. During this asymptomatic stage, the virus replicates and increases in the number and starts destroying CD-4 cells. For about 3-8 weeks the immune system produces antibodies to fight against HIV and the HIV viral load decreases and the symptoms cannot be seen but the infection remains. Hence, it is important to detect the infection as early as possible so that the treatment can be started. This HIV infection can be treated but not cured.

Why this test is performed?

This test may be recommended to you, if you are suspected to have HIV infection (in cases of unprotected sex or shared needles) or previously been diagnosed with HIV-1 infection or if you are receiving antiretroviral therapy, then to check the effectiveness of the treatment. This test may also be recommended if you experience symptoms like fever, headache, sore throat, dry cough and tiredness for a long time, swollen lymph nodes, muscle aches, joint pains, skin rashes, itching, red breakouts, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating at night, etc. This test may also be recommended during pregnancy to find out whether you have HIV.

Precautions:

This test results may be altered if you have had a vaccine like a flu shot or present with an active infection. This test is not recommended for at least 4 weeks after vaccination or infection.

Frequency:

  • This test should be done once in every 3-6 months to monitor the progression of the disease.
  • Once in every 2 to 8 weeks after starting the treatment followed by every 4 to 8 weeks.
  • If the therapy is changed then once in every 2-8 weeks
  • Once in every 6 to 12 months if the patient is stable.

Test Preparation

Inform your doctor if you are on any medications, have any allergies or underlying medical conditions before your Hiv 1 Rna Quantitative Rt-Pcr Blood. Your doctor will give specific instructions depending on your condition on how to prepare for Hiv 1 Rna Quantitative Rt-Pcr Blood.

For this test, you may be asked to fast (without food and drinks) for 12 hours prior to the test.

Understanding your test results

The reference range may vary depending on the gender, age, health history, your condition, etc.

If your test results are higher in number than the reference range, it means you have high viral copies in the blood which indicates progression of HIV infection or if you are already on treatment then it means the treatment is not working efficiently or you may develop immunity problems related to AIDS.

If your test results show undetectable, it means there are very fewer copies of the virus in the blood than the test can measure. This doesn’t mean the infection is cured, the virus is still in the body but in small traces.

If your test results are lower in number than the reference range it means you have a low viral load which may indicate the virus is not highly active or replicating rapidly, or the treatment is working efficiently if you are on HIV therapy.

If you get abnormal test results to consult your doctor immediately. Your doctor may recommend other tests depending on your results.

GenderAge groupsValue
UNISEXAll age groups< 40 copies/mL
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