AIDS or Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome is the most advanced stage of infection with HIV. To have the diagnosis of AIDS a person with HIV must have the following: an AIDS defining condition (such as an advanced kind of infection of either the brain, eyes, lungs or certain types of cancers) or have a CD4 count of less than 200. The HIV destroys the CD4 type of white blood cells, which ultimately leave the body vulnerable to dangerous infections and cancers.
Learning that a loved-one has contracted HIV can be devastating to families, and without treatment bears a harsh impact on the lives of all involved. On the other hand, with advancements today early detection can be extremely beneficial to the patient and offers previously unavailable treatment that ultimately prevents the progression of the infection into the long-term condition AIDS. HIV doesn’t need to be the life altering, fearful condition that it once was. If you believe you may have been exposed, then be responsible and seek a fast and reliable detector of HIV.
What is HIV?
HIV stands for ‘Human Immunodeficiency Virus’, which basically attacks a person’s immune system. The virus is unique in the way that it lowers the body's ability to defend against other invaders, viruses, bacteria, etc.
- HIV is transmitted by infected blood, breast milk or sexual fluids. There is no documented case of HIV being transmitted by tears or saliva!
All viruses need to infect living cells in order to reproduce. HIV takes over the ‘T Cells’ which are the white cells responsible for defending the body, basically turning the cell into a virus factory. The infected cells then begin to produce thousands of copies of the virus, which in turn begin invading other T cells and repeating the entire process. Not only do infected cells cease to work properly, they die early.
Common Symptoms of HIV:
- Sore throat
- Fever inducing headache
- Nightly sweats
- Joint pain
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Rash present
- Muscle aches and pains
- Ulcers on/around genitals or in the mouth
Chronic symptoms of HIV:
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Continuous fatigue
- Continued weight loss
- Shortness of breath
What is AIDS?
Without treatment, an HIV infected patient will eventually progress to developing AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) over approximately the course of 10 years (estimation). In layman's terms, AIDS is a disease causing a severe deterioration of a person’s cellular immunity, greatly lowering his or her ability to fight off infection and disease.
- The CDC estimates about 1.3 million people are living with AIDS in the USA, approximately 15% of them not knowing it!
In the end, it isn’t the virus itself that kills a person. It is the destruction of their immune system. At this stage, a minor common cold could be lethal to someone infected with AIDS.
Symptoms of AIDS
- Continued weight loss
- Skin rashes or/and bumps
- Chronic diarrhea
- Shortness of breath
- Severe chills
- Continuous fever higher than 100 Fahrenheit for weeks
- Frequent Lethargy or Fatigue
- White spots or/and abnormal lesions on the tongue and inside the mouth
- Distorted or blurred vision
What is the HIV RNA Test?
The HIV RNA test is the best option available for early detection. Tests can either measure antigens, antibodies or genetic material of the virus (RNA). Researchers claim that RNA tests are 99% effective, so there is no need to worry about the validity of the findings! Older commonly used HIV tests usually measured the levels of the antibodies that fight HIV, compared to newer RNA-based tests, which detect the presence of the virus itself in the bloodstream.
It actually takes your body up to 3 months to produce a detectable level of antibodies in reaction to the virus. On the other hand, the HIV RNA test detects the virus as soon as it is measurable in the bloodstream, long before antibodies begin to develop.
Having the ability to detect a new HIV infection without the presence of antibodies (the body's proteins that are produced in order to combat infections) in the body’s blood, makes the new HIV RNA test the best and most accurate early HIV detection test available on the market today.
- RNA Tests have been routinely used to monitor the progression of disease in an HIV-infected person.
- HIV RNA Tests are used to screen blood donations commonly.
- The tests have been improved and are now used to diagnose primary (recent) infection.
- False positives are easily recognized by the testing facility and are automatically retested and compared with the presence or absence of a recognizable viral load.
What does RNA stand for?
RNA stands for ‘ribonucleic acid’, a genetic messenger present in all the body's cells that carries instructions. RNA is the viral equivalent to human DNA. The RNA molecule is essential for various biological coding, decoding, regulating and the expression of certain genes.
How Accurate is the HIV RNA Test?
When a person becomes initially infected with HIV, the body begins to replicate the HIV (up into the 100’s of thousands) very fast as the immune system has yet to be compromised. If a RNA test appears to be inconclusive, a viral load test will determine whether a recent exposure actually exists. Since it is the RNA itself that contains certain codes which allows the virus to replicate itself, viral load tests are very accurate down to as low as 20 copies/milliliter.
So what does this mean for you and your results? If you take your test within 9-11 days after a possible exposure, you decrease your chances of having a false positive as the HIV RNA test is not reliable before this time, 90% accurate during this window and 99% accurate around 28 days after exposure.
Your testing facility will alert you of the need to have more blood drawn, should additional testing be recommended.
Who Can Be Tested with the HIV RNA Test?
- Anyone who is known to have potential Exposure to HIV-1 in the past 12 weeks thru
- Unprotected sex
- High risk behavior by sharing non-sterile (dirty) needles
- Exposure to HIV infected blood
- Infants born to infected mothers
- Individuals who have received reactive (positive) results on an HIV antibody test
- Negative or indeterminate results received from supplemental testing
Cost of HIV RNA Testing
When it comes to medical care, most people are concerned with the financial burden and whether or not their insurance can help make that cost easier on them. Before anything else, understand that no matter how much you might think HIV testing like the HIV RNA test costs, the price of good long term medical treatment is vastly cheaper the earlier a person realizes he or she is infected. In other words, definitive treatment is both more cost-effective and generally more effective the earlier a person can get access to it.
Costs will differ depending on the region where you live, the medical facility used and the type of insurance policy a person has. However, if you choose to pay out-of-pocket, the flat pricing averages around $150- $175. Though this form of testing is slightly more expensive than many others, the increase in cost is easily outweighed by the treatment benefits early detection offers.
Testing Process for HIV RNA
The testing process for HIV RNA (Ribonucleic Acid) is convenient and simple. If you are looking to be tested, then follow the steps below.
- Select your test package.
- Locate your testing center close to you by entering in your zip code.
- Fill out the form with your information and make your payment.
- You will get an email that has a Lab Requisition Form that has a testing code. The address of your testing center will also be included.
- Print out the form and testing code and take it to the testing center.
- Get tested in just 5 minutes using a small blood sample.
- You will receive your results in 1-2 days.
- If your test is positive, you will have a consultation with a doctor over the phone.
Why Should You Choose the HIV RNA Test ASAP?
Because both HIV and more importantly AIDS can bear such a devastating impact on many human lives. It’s extremely important for persons who are HIV positive realize they are carriers as soon as possible! Not only can this knowledge prevent knowingly transmitting the disease to others, it can also help slow the spread of the long term and devastating condition of AIDS and vastly improve treatment options.
- About 37 million people are living with HIV/AIDS across the globe.
- In 2016, about 38,700 people were diagnosed with HIV in the US.
- According to scientists at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) one out of every seven people infected with HIV or AIDS aren’t aware of their status.
- Getting tested is the only way to be sure, and the HIV RNA test is your fastest option!
- Discovering infection quickly means early access to treatment, and better health chances.
When can you get tested?
HIVRNA tests will be accurate after 9-11 days of exposure to the virus!
How is HIV Transmitted?
- Via unprotected sex
- Sharing needles or syringes
- Sharing other equipment used to prepare drugs
- Mother to child via birth, breastfeeding, pregnancy
Less Common or Rare:
- Oral sex
- Blood Transfusion
- Organ/tissue transplants
- Eating food pre-chewed from infected victim
- Bitten by infected individual
- Broken skin contact with infected individual
- Open mouth kissing; contact with bleeding gums
HIV can live in a used needle up to 42 days.
Important, Common Questions
Will HIV always lead to AIDS in every single case?
HIV infection can eventually lead to AIDS, but with treatment it doesn’t always have to. Being diagnosed with HIV isn’t nearly as dire today as it was a decade ago, and patients often continue to live perfectly normal lives with proper medical treatment.
With the combination of powerful antiviral therapy techniques, or ART, and today’s vast advances in medical understanding, it’s easily possible for infected men, women and children to live long and happy lives.
As long as someone chooses to make the best health decisions possible, remains in constant communication with their doctor, and sticks to their strict treatment regimen, progression to the final stage of HIV infection- AIDS - can be significantly delayed.
Does everyone who contracts AIDS eventually die from AIDS?
Although it isn’t fully understood why or how, there have been a few known cases of humans who have been cured of the AIDS virus (depending on the source). Each case had significantly different treatments that ranged from bone marrow transplantations from a donor with a rare genetic mutation to the HIV to a stem cell transplantation. There are significant cases of patients who just by being diligent with their medications have been found many years later to have little to no detectable virus.
Will every HIV patient eventually get AIDS?
With today’s medical advances and understanding, most HIV infected patients won’t develop AIDS as long as they strictly maintain their antiretroviral therapy. Though this is true in most cases, there are times when AIDS is inevitable and can’t be prevented.
Regardless the person or case, however, chances are always without a doubt improved with good medical care and early detection.
Can I get HIV from an infected person’s saliva (kissing)?
Believe it or not, there has been no known case of a person contracting HIV infection from another sick person's saliva. The virus can be spread through contact with sores on the mouth or bleeding gums, so activities like kissing are still very dangerous.
Is HIV curable?
HIV cannot be cured, so that is why early detection is important. HIV will weaken the immune system and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the only way to treat it. Early detection helps to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
How long can I live with HIV?
First, understand that it isn’t actually HIV or even AIDS that will cause the death of a person. Deaths ultimately result from their body’s inability to fight off infection from foreign invaders (example: common cold, flu) due to their diminished immune systems and the damage the virus does to those immune systems.
The earlier an HIV infected patient is able to get medical care, the better the chances are for a long, healthy life.
Is Urine or Blood used for the HIV RNA test?
This is a blood test. When you visit the testing center, one of our certified lab techs will take a small sample of blood. You will not need any urine to take this test.
What is the soonest that I can have a HIV early detection test after unprotected sex?
You can have this test between 9 to 11 days after having sex. The window period for HIV RNA testing is the shortest time among all the other tests on the market.
How often should I be tested?
If you are sexually active, then it should be at least once each year. Yet, if you have had unprotected sex with someone whose status isn’t known, then get tested again.
Is the HIV RNA test considered accurate?
If want to know what your HIV status is at early stages, then this test is the only test that can detect the virus in your blood after 9 to 11 days after you have been exposed. It is able to detect it with an accuracy of 99%.
Do I need to fast before this test?
No. You do not have to fast for this HIV RNA test.
When will the HIV RNA test be considered to be conclusive?
A conclusive HIV test is only considered conclusive after 12 weeks or a retest, however RNA tests can provide accurate results earlier than others.
How long will it take to get results?
It can take between 1 to 2 business days to get your results, but that is only after taking the 5 minutes to be tested. The results are emailed to you.
Is there a possibility of getting a false negative HIV RNA test result?
Even though the RNA test can provide 99% accurate results, there are times when a false positive may happen. This may happen if you have had a test that was done using Pooled RNA NAAT.
How soon can a blood test detect HIV?
The HIV RNA or HIV early detection test can be used to find the HIV infection at early stages. This can detect the virus in the blood just 9 to 11 days after you have been exposed.
What is the range of a normal viral load?
If you are on an HIV treatment or do not have a HIV infection, your viral load should not be detectable. If you have HIV but are not on an HIV treatment, then your viral load could be up to several million.
Why is this test better than the standard HIV test?
Unlike the standard test, this one looks for the virus within the blood. The standard test only looks for antibodies. The standard test can take up to 3 months before providing accurate results, but this one can test up to 11 days after unprotected sex.