Since its discovery in the 1980s, scientists have managed to expand humanity’s knowledge around HIV. While a cure still eludes us, sadly, our efforts to detect HIV infection in humans have gotten better and better throughout the years. Since medication nowadays can completely halt the virus and people no longer die from AIDS (the disease that follows the HIV infection), it is imperative that the infected individual knows that they have been afflicted early.
How Do They Work?
HIV RNA tests can be used to accurately and effectively detect the virus’s RNA inside the body. These tests are able to detect even the tiniest amounts of RNA produced by HIV, including damaged and incomplete fragments. While the virus can be detected early on, there is a catch, however. If a person has been afflicted but the virus hasn’t produced any of its signature RNA with which it infects its host, the test will show negative results.
Thankfully, the ideal testing period is 9 to 11 days after the suspected day of infection. During this time period, the test will produce accurate results, as the virus will have time to produce RNA that the test can track down. It is true that these tests have an accuracy rating of 99.89% but, of course, people often repeat the test after a few days to make absolutely sure the results are consistent.
Why Choose HIV RNA Tests?
There are other tests out there that can detect the virus through various means. For example, antibody tests will try to locate the antibodies a human produces when their body is fighting HIV. These tests, however, are not as accurate as the RNA test, not to mention that the testing window period is far longer, generally being 3 to 12 weeks after the initial infection.
For the test to work, all that is required is a small blood sample. The test also produces results very quickly – the average wait time is just 2-3 days.