The HIV RNA test is one of the most recently developed HIV tests, and it is starting to generate a lot of interest in the scientific community. Though it still is not as popular as other types of HIV tests, more and more people are starting to go for the HIV RNA test after a potential exposure to HIV. Have you heard about the HIV RNA test and are wondering if it is right for you? Keep reading to discover all the details about what this test is, how it works, and why you need it.
The Importance of Early Detection for HIV
The human immunodeficiency virus can be spread through many types of bodily fluids. HIV is no longer an absolute death sentence like it was in the eighties, but it is still a very serious infection. If you do not know you have HIV, the illness can progress and eventually cause AIDS. This leads to a variety of problems like severe infection, sweating, fatigue, weight loss, and cancer.
Because HIV can be dangerous if left untreated, you need to be able to find out if you have it as soon as possible, The most effective form of HIV treatment, antiretroviral therapy, will work the best if you can begin taking it before you experience any symptoms. With proper treatment and care, you can avoid ever developing AIDS even if you are HIV positive. Prompt treatment can keep other serious complications of HIV, like certain cancers and opportunistic infections, from developing too.
Early detection is also essential because it helps you to avoid infecting anyone else. Once you begin treatment, your HIV viral load will decrease, reducing the chance of you infecting someone. You will also be properly informed, so you can take steps to keep your sexual partners from ending up with HIV. Getting tested and diagnosed with HIV as soon as possible is the right choice for both you and your loved ones.
What Is an RNA Test for HIV?
Now that you know a little bit about the importance of HIV detection, it is time to go into a little more detail about the HIV RNA test. HIV is a type of virus that encodes the genetic information in RNA instead of DNA. RNA is similar to the DNA that every human has, but it is slightly simpler and has a different chemical composition. When you are infected with the HIV virus, it inserts itself into your cells and then hijacks the cell’s systems to replicate itself.
Therefore, anyone who has an HIV infection will have the HIV RNA inside of some of their cells. The HIV RNA test uses this fact to facilitate testing. During the test, the experts look for evidence that your body has HIV RNA. If these RNA are present, you are HIV positive, and if they are not present, you are most likely HIV negative.
When Should You Get the HIV RNA Test?
The HIV RNA test is called the early detection test because its window period is far shorter than other types of HIV tests. After a person is exposed to a possible HIV infection, they cannot take a test until they reach the window period for the test. This phrase is used to describe the time after which the test can actually start to work.
If you take a test too soon, it may not bring up any results even though you are infected with HIV. Unlike other tests, HIV RNA testing can be done just 9 to 11 days after you are exposed to HIV. Results are almost always reliable at 9 days following exposure, but you can wait until 11 days if you want to be on the safe side.
How to Pick the Right HIV Test for Your Needs
There are all sorts of HIV tests on the market right now, so you might be wondering how the HIV RNA test compares to other options. The HIV RNA test can be done just nine days after exposure because of its unique testing method. This is the main thing that sets it apart from other tests. The most common type of HIV test is an antibody test, but some people choose other options like the p24 test or antibody/antigen test.
The antibody test works by looking for antibodies that your body produces as a response to the HIV infection. The HIV antibody test is rapid and can be performed with multiple types of bodily fluids. However, it is not much use if you take it early on. In the first few weeks after you are infected with HIV, your body will not be producing antibodies at a high enough level for the test to detect them. It may be up to 90 days before an antibody test will provide an accurate result.
A p24 test is fairly similar to the antibody test, but instead of looking for antibodies, it tests for p24, a type of protein that the body starts making two to three weeks after being infected with HIV. An antibody/antigen test combines a few different testing methods. It looks for both p24 proteins and regular HIV antibodies. This type of test can provide fairly accurate results about 28 days after exposure to HIV.
The HIV RNA Test: How Does it Work?
At its most basic level, the HIV RNA test is done simply by checking the blood for HIV RNA, but the precise mechanisms used to check the blood are a little more complicated. Getting into the exact scientific method behind this style of test could take pages and pages, so we will just provide a quick overview of how it works.
HIV RNA testing is done with a polymerase chain reaction. In this method, an automated device combines carefully measured amounts of various chemicals in a test tube with the patient’s sample. The polymerase chemicals copy any DNA and RNA from the sample to create easily readable genetic information from even small bits of RNA. Polymerase chain reaction is a very useful way to read accurate genetic information even from a minute sample, so it lets scientists identify whether or not there is any HIV RNA in a patient’s sample.
The Reason You Get Early Results With HIV RNA Testing
HIV RNA testing provides such early results because the HIV RNA is present in your body as soon as you get infected with HIV. As mentioned in the overview of other types of tests, most HIV tests wait around until the body starts reacting to HIV by producing certain antibodies and proteins. Since RNA is produced by HIV itself, it is there as soon as you are infected.
Though the HIV RNA is inside your body as soon as you get infected, you still have to wait a couple days before taking the HIV RNA test to ensure that there is a large enough amount of RNA present to appear in a sample. Otherwise, you run the risk of drawing a sample that just happens to not contain any HIV RNA in it. This is why you should not take the test until 9 to 14 days after exposure. Any sort of waiting period can be intimidating when you face the idea of having HIV, but the HIV RNA test lets you check a couple weeks before any other type of HIV test.
Where Can You Get the HIV RNA Early Detection Test?
The reason that everyone does not automatically choose the benefits of the HIV RNA test is that this test used to be hard to come by. Originally, it was only used in hospitals to test newborn babies of HIV patients because it was difficult, time consuming, and expensive. Modern technological refinements have made the test quicker and more budget friendly, but so far, only one company has managed to produce a consumer friendly version of the test.
There is only a single FDA approved HIV RNA test on the market right now, so you will need to find a healthcare organization that offers this test. Many local clinics do not provide this type of test, but STDcheck.com makes it easy to access this quick and accurate HIV test. You can order the HIV RNA test through STDcheck.com if you suspect that you have been exposed to HIV.
Is the HIV RNA Test Affordable?
For a long time, one of the main reasons that people did not select the HIV RNA test was the high costs associated with the tests. As DNA and RNA sequencing technologies have advanced, this type of test has become far more budget friendly. The exact cost will vary depending on whether you select the plain HIV RNA test or choose to get other tests alongside the HIV RNA tests. The cost can be a little lower when you get the HIV RNA test as part of a bundle, but in general, it is under $180.
The test normally is not covered by health insurance. STDcheck.com does not accept health insurance because this can reduce the privacy of a client’s results. We believe that everyone should have access to the sexual healthcare that they need, so we offer pay later options if you cannot currently pay for a test. This lets you go ahead and get tested as soon as possible without needing to go ahead and find payment for the test. You just need to pay when you plan on accessing your HIV RNA results.
What Is the Process Like for the HIV RNA Test?
Regardless of where you live or where you get the HIV RNA test, the process will be the same every time. People getting the test do not need to fast, drink a lot of water, or do any other sort of preparation for the test. The test does not require collecting urine or saliva samples. Instead, all it needs is a small sample of blood.
To collect the blood sample, a trained lab technician will use a small syringe to draw a small amount of blood out of your body. This is the only part of the HIV RNA test that you have to actually be present for, and it does not take longer than a few minutes. After that, the sample is sent to the lab, and all you need to do is wait for results.
How to Get the HIV RNA Test Through STD Check
If you are interested in getting the HIV RNA test through STDcheck.com, you can enjoy a convenient and private HIV testing experience. STDcheck.com partners with thousands of clinics across the nation to help you find out your STD status. The process used to identify your HIV status with STDcheck.com is very simple and easy.
You start by visiting the website and selecting the STD tests you are interested in taking. You can get just the HIV RNA test or add on other options as well. Once you select your test, you pay for it and create an account with STDcheck.com. Creating an account lets you discreetly plan for your test and check your results later. After you have your account with STDcheck.com, you can use our handy location finder to find one of the STDcheck.com affiliated clinics near you. There are over 4,000 clinics, so you can easily find one right near your location
Once you have decided on a clinic for your test, all you need to do is walk in and provide your sample. You do not need to call the clinic and make any appointments, and there is no wait time after ordering the test. Once you order the test online, you can go straight to the most convenient clinic near your location. Several of our clinics are open on the weekends or after 5 PM, so even those who work traditional hours can visit.
At the clinic, there normally is not any sort of wait time. All you do is walk in, provide them with your unique user code, and give your sample. On average, the visit is over in under five minutes. After you provide your sample, you just need to wait for the clinic to provide your results. This can occur in as little as one business day, and you normally do not need to wait more than three business days. Extra waiting time only occurs if you live in a state that has regulations for excess processing time.
There will be several different ways to look up your results after getting the test. You will only be notified that your results are ready if you select a notification option on the website. Otherwise, you have to remember to look up the results yourself. You can login to your account to view the results, or you can call STDcheck.com’s website to get the results. If desired, we can email you a pdf of your results, though you can select a more private option that will keep you from getting any emails.
Is the HIV RNA Test Private?
Testing for STDs is often a sensitive subject, so it is perfectly understandable for you to want a private HIV testing service. One of the benefits of using the HIV RNA test through STDcheck.com is that it is extremely private. You do not have to worry about anyone you know seeing your test results, hearing about the test through someone at the STD clinic, or viewing your name on a sign in sheet. We are absolutely committed to helping keep your decisions to get an HIV RNA test as private as possible.
The only time you will actually use your name at STDcheck.com is when you first sign up for the service. Once you register, you get a unique code that is used to identify your testing. You do not have to show an ID at the lab or enter your name to get your results. This keeps anyone from associating your name with the HIV RNA test. At the lab, there are many other types of tests being conducted, so people will not automatically assume you are there for an STD test if you visit.
STDcheck.com is committed to reserving your privacy in all situations. Your payment for the test will show up as a discreet “HealthLabs.com” transaction on your statement instead of mentioning any STDs, and it will not appear on your health insurance records either. STDcheck.com will never mail you anything or email your results to you. Instead, you can just login to your confidential online account or call one of our care advisors to access your results once they are ready.
The Accuracy of the HIV RNA Test
If you are worried about potentially getting HIV, then you need the most accurate test possible. Many types of drug tests are inaccurate at the early stages, but this is not true for the HIV RNA test. The HIV RNA test is actually more accurate than other types of HIV test even though it is done far earlier than other types of tests. Thanks to the polymerase chain reaction process used during testing, even damaged fragments of HIV RNA are not missed.
When regulating STD tests, the FDA requires measurements on both the sensitivity and the specificity of the test. A test’s sensitivity is its ability to actually identify a person with the disease. The HIV RNA test used by STDcheck.com has a sensitivity rating of 100 percent which means it never mistakenly tells an HIV positive person that they are HIV free. Specificity is used to tell the accuracy of a test in identifying people who do not have HIV. The specificity rating of the HIV RNA test is at 99.83 percent which means that in very rare situations, a person might get a false negative.
Though the early detection test for HIV RNA is extremely accurate, we understand that you do not want to take any chances with your health. There is more risk of a false positive than a false negative with the HIV RNA test because it is so sensitive that it can detect trace amounts of HIV RNA from your exposure even if you are not actually infected. You can always take the HIV antibody test a few months later just to double check the results. This type of test will tell you if your body is producing all the antibodies it would need during an actual infection.
What Happens After the HIV Testing?
After you get your results from the test, you might be wondering what comes next. If you have a negative result, your HIV testing experience will be over. However, if you test positive, you will need to take steps to confirm the diagnosis and get the right sort of treatment. People who use STDcheck.com to get their HIV RNA test will have plenty of support following a positive diagnosis.
If your results are negative, STDcheck.com will ask you if you would like a phone consultation with a doctor. This lets you speak with one of their physicians who will explain your results to you and let you ask any questions you might have about your test. Though STDcheck.com’s doctors can write prescriptions for some types of STDs, that is not an option for HIV treatment. Instead, the doctor you consult with will help you to find a local physician who can provide the treatment necessary for managing HIV.
It is generally recommended that people let their partners know about their HIV positive diagnosis. Depending on which state you live in, this may actually be a legal requirement following an HIV test. Notifying partners might seem awkward, but STDcheck.com has a tool you can use if you want to notify previous partners without revealing your identity. Once you provide the website with the number, it will send a completely anonymous text to previous partners recommending that they get tested for HIV.