HIV viral load

Diagnostic Use

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

Delphic Registration Code


Laboratory Handling


Dedicated EDTA tubes required, minimum 4mL whole blood


If sample arrives frozen, please ensure it does not thaw.


Please refer to separating guide in Additional Information section below


Testing available daily on routine weekdays.

Test Adds

Not available. Dedicated sample tubes required.


HIV quantitation
HIV titre
HIV Viral Load

Turnaround Time

4 days

Test Code