HIV 1 Viral Load

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Also known as: HIV Viral Load; HIV 1 Nucleic Acid Amplification Test; HIV NAAT; HIV NAT; HIV 1 RNA Quantification
Formal name: Human Immunodeficiency Virus type 1 RNA, Quantitative
Related tests: CD4 and CD8; HIV 1 and 2 Antibody/Antigen; HIV 1 Proviral DNA; p24 Antigen; HIV 1 Drug Resistance (Genotypic and Phenotypic)

At a Glance

Why Get Tested?

To monitor the status of HIV 1 disease in conjunction with other lab tests and physical disease progression and to guide therapy. Your viral load levels are usually used as an indicator of how well your immune system is dealing with HIV. If you are on anti-HIV treatments, it can be an indicator of how well the treatments are working.

When to Get Tested?

When first diagnosed with HIV 1, frequently at the start of therapy, and every 3-12 months during lifelong therapy thereafter, or as your doctor recommends. Patients with viral loads consistently <50 copies/mL are likely to be tested less often than patients whose virus level is less well controlled.

Rarely your doctor may also ask for the test;

  • If you have had an indeterminate HIV 1/2 antibody/antigen result
  • You are at risk and have symptoms of acute HIV, irrespective of the HIV 1/2 antibody/antigen result

Sample Required?

A blood sample taken from a vein in your arm

Test Preparation Needed?

No test preparation is needed.