Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is the etiologic agent of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS). It can be transmitted through sexual contact, exposure to infected blood or blood products, or from an infected mother to the fetus. Acute HIV syndrome, characterized by flu-like symptoms, develops three to five weeks after initial infection and is associated with high levels of viremia. Within four to six weeks of the onset of symptoms, HIV specific immune response (ie presence of HIV antibodies) is detectable. After seroconversion, viral load in peripheral blood declines and most patients enter an asymptomatic phase that can last for years.
The diagnosis of HIV infection involves testing for the presence/absence of HIV-specific antigen and antibodies, please refer to the entry for HIV antibody (1 + 2), Blood.
Quantitative measurement of HIV-1 RNA levels in plasma has been shown to be an essential parameter in prognosis and management of HIV-1 infected individuals. Viral load monitoring of HIV-1 levels is considered the most reliable indicator of initial and sustained response to anti-retroviral therapy (ART) and should be obtained at the entry into care, at initiation and during therapy.
Decisions regarding changes in antiretroviral therapy are guided by monitoring changes in plasma HIV-1 viral load levels over time.
Virological response failure, which is suggestive of resistance to current antiretroviral therapies, is considered to occur when there is a persistently elevated HIV-1 viral load.
Microbiology - Virology
Dedicated EDTA tubes required, minimum 4mL whole blood
Please refer to separating guide in Additional Information section below
If sample arrives frozen, please ensure it does not thaw.
Not available. Dedicated sample tubes required.
For paediatric patients, minimum volume required is 1.0mL of EDTA plasma. Please collect as close to 2.0mL of EDTA blood as possible to ensure there is enough plasma for testing.
Please refer to separating guidelines in the Additional Information section below. All viral loads are required to be received in the laboratory by 4.30pm on Friday.
Chilled (2 - 8 degrees Celsius)
If separated sample will arrive within 70 hours of collection, chilled transport is acceptable.
If this timeframe cannot be guaranteed, please send samples frozen.
Results are reported as HIV-1 RNA copies/mL.
An infectious disease physician should be consulted for interpretation of results.
Detection and quantification of Human deficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) RNA by RT-PCR: Abbott Alinity m platform.
$568.77 (Exclusive of GST)
This assay is not a screening test for HIV. It is a quantitative assay for monitoring disease activity and/or response to therapy.
Test Availability - Turnaround times are based on longest expected results for specimens received end of week and tested following week. Expect samples received M-Th to have 48 hr turnaround. Testing is performed on Abbott Alinity M platform.
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