Window Period. 10 days after possible exposure
Sample(s) required. Blood from vein
Biological Marker. RNA and Proviral DNA
Accuracy. Specificity (number of true negatives): 98.91%
Sensitivity (number of true positives): 99.23%
Time for test results. Within 4 hours
If you are worried about being infected with HIV and you are looking for a same day, accurate, test that looks for the HIV-1 virus then the HIV-1 RNA PCR test may be a good option for you.
Also known as the 10 day HIV test, the HIV-1 RNA PCR test is able to detect HIV in the bloodstream 10 days after possible exposure.
You will need to wait at least 10 days after potential exposure in order to receive an accurate result. If you are looking to get tested 45 days after potential exposure, please click here.
If you are HIV-negative and concerned about how you can protect yourself from HIV, please book in for a consultation to discuss your options.
If you are concerned about a recent exposure (that happened less than 72 hours ago), it is essential to book in for a consultation, or contact the NHS, as soon as possible. You may be eligible for PEP following adequate screening, however, you will need to have commenced PEP within 72 hours (the sooner, the better). After 72 hours, PEP will be ineffective.
Same Day Appointments Available
Specialist & Friendly Professionals
Discreet & Confidential Service
In order to be most prepared and leave plenty of time for questions & discussions, we will ask you to fill out a simple questionnaire.
We will begin by assessing your medical & sexual history, any symptoms you may be experiencing and discuss any questions you may have.
If it is still appropriate to proceed with the HIV-1 RNA PCR test (and you would like to), we will take a blood sample.
If your results are positive, we can offer you support and advice on communicating your results to your partner(s) and accessing treatement.
Medicine is a complicated subject and sometimes these guidelines don’t always hold the answers.
For example, treating an STI in a patient who has developed a resistance to routinely used antibiotics.
Unlike most private clinics, we have medical consultants here to help you navigate through such problems and get you on the right track in no time.
About The Test
What is the HIV-1 RNA PCR test?
The HIV-1 RNA PCR test utilises automated advanced molecular diagnostic technology to detect the presence of the HIV-1 virus. This test specifically looks for the genetic material of the virus, including RNA and proviral DNA. As a result, it offers a shorter window period for testing, allowing us to offer this test to patients as soon as 10 days after potential exposure to the HIV virus.
What is the window period for this test?
To receive accurate results, you will need to wait at least 10 days after potential exposure.
How accurate is the HIV-1 RNA PCR test?
There are multiple published studies confirming extremely high levels of accuracy for the HIV-1 RNA PCR test.
Will I need a examination to have a HIV-1 RNA PCR test?
An examination is not routinely required for a HIV-1 RNA PCR test. However, if you are concerned about experiencing HIV symptoms, we can certainly offer you an examination.
What is the difference between a Qualitative and a Quantitative HIV test?
The HIV-1 RNA PCR test we offer is a qualitative test, and will tell you whether you have HIV or not.
A quantitative HIV test measures the amount of HIV virus in your blood and is performed after a qualitative HIV test comes back positive.
Quantitative tests, such as the HIV Viral Load test, help your clinician decide which combination of HIV medications will work best for you and how effective they will be. It also helps your clinician to keep track of the level of HIV in your body over time.
How is the HIV-1 RNA PCR test different from the 4th generation HIV test?
The HIV-1 RNA PCR test specifically looks for the genetic material of the virus, including RNA and proviral DNA, instead of relying on the detection of antibodies like the 4th generation HIV test does. Therefore, the HIV-1 RNA PCR test can provide quicker, more accurate results than the 4th generation HIV test if you wish to test before 45 days.
Having a conversation with your clinician to determine the most suitable HIV test for you is essential. The choice of HIV test most suited to you should be made considering your overall clinical situation.
Why does the HIV-1 RNA PCR test not look for HIV-2?
This test is designed to detect the HIV-1 virus which accounts for almost all cases of HIV in the UK (99.98%). HIV-2 is associated with lower disease progression due to the low levels of virus and is not transmitted as efficiently as HIV-1.
Although HIV-2 is less common in the UK, it is still present in 1 to 2 million people worldwide with certain countries where you tend to see this infection more commonly.
Is there another way to be diagnosed with HIV without getting tested?
No, the only way to definitively diagnose HIV is through a blood test for HIV.
It is important to get tested for HIV if there is a potential risk of exposure, even if there are no noticeable symptoms. Testing is crucial for early diagnosis and timely treatment, as well as for preventing the transmission of the virus to others.
While there are no alternative methods or indicators to diagnose HIV without testing, it is important to be aware of the potential risk factors and to take proactive steps to protect oneself and others from HIV infection. This includes practising safe sex, using condoms, getting regularly tested for sexually transmitted infections, and avoiding sharing needles or other drug paraphernalia.
Does the NHS do this test?
This test is not routinely offered in NHS clinics at the moment due to its high cost. However, many large laboratories, including those within the NHS, do have the capability to perform this test. HIV-1 RNA PCR tests are regularly conducted for screening newborns and ensuring the safety of blood transfusions.
Is my HIV-1 RNA PCR test confidential?
Yes. Everything you share with us is confidential and will not be shared with the NHS, your GP or anyone else unless you wish for us to do so.
About The Results
How long does the 4th generation HIV test result take?
You will receive your HIV-1 RNA PCR results within 4 hours.
A reactive HIV result is always repeated, confirmed, and subjected to further testing before being shared with the patient.
How will I receive my HIV-1 RNA PCR test results?
You can receive your HIV-1 RNA PCR test results by either text or email.
What do my HIV-1 RNA PCR test results mean?
Your results will either state ‘Detected’ or ‘Not detected’.
If your results state ‘Detected’, it means that the HIV-1 virus has been found in your blood sample and you are HIV-positive. A positive or detected HIV-1 RNA PCR result will only be released to you once it has undergone further testing.
If your results state ‘Not detected’, it means that the HIV-1 virus has not been found in your blood sample and you are HIV-negative at the time of testing.
Will I need a 4th generation HIV test at 45 days post exposure, following a negative HIV-1 RNA PCR test?
BASHH guidelines recommend having a 4th generation HIV test 45 days after exposure, and to repeat at 3 months for those at high risk of having HIV.
We also recommend having a 4th generation HIV test to test for the presence of the HIV-2 virus which is not tested for by the HIV-1 RNA PCR test.
Your clinician will be able to advise you on this in more detail.
What happens if my HIV-1 RNA PCR test is positive?
In the event that we receive a positive result from a HIV-1 RNA PCR test, we will subject your sample to further testing.
Our consultants are specialists in HIV Medicine and have decades of experience in treating patients with HIV in all its stages. Therefore, in the event your test result is positive, you are in the best hands to be looked after.
Do I have to tell my partner if I test positive for HIV?
It is essential to inform all sexual partners that you have tested positive for HIV so that they can get tested and treated appropriately.
If you require advice or support on how to communicate your HIV status to your partner(s) please contact your clinician who will be more than willing to help you.
Can I get a certificate of my HIV-1 RNA PCR test results?
Along with a text or email of your HIV-1 RNA PCR test results, we can email a certificate for official purposes.
Sexual Health Consultation £60
HIV-1 RNA PCR Test (inc. consultation) £200
HIV-1 RNA PCR Test (with Drop & Go) £140
4th Generation HIV Test (inc. consultation) £130
4th Generation HIV Test (with Drop & Go) £70
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Reviewed by: Dr Manoj Malu
Written By: Shannon Abraham
Last reviewed date: 15 November 2023
Next review due: 15 November 2026
Whilst this content is written and reviewed by sexual health specialists, it is for general guidance only. It is not intended to replace the advice of your clinician.
References & Further Reading
- National Centre for Biotechnology Information: HIV Testing
- National Centre for Biotechnology Information: Diagnosis and Management of HIV-2 in Adults
- National Centre for Biotechnology Information:HIV-2
- Journal of Clinical Virology: (PDF) Evaluation of Xpert HIV-1 Qual assay for resolution of HIV-1 infection in samples with negative or indeterminate Geenius HIV-1/2 results
- BHIVA:British HIV Association guidelines for antiretroviral treatment of HIV-2-positive individuals 2010
- Cepheid: EVALUATION OF THE CEPHEID HIV-1 QUAL POINT-OF-CARE TEST FOR HIV DIAGNOSIS AT BIRTH
- Aidsmap: How a London clinic reduced new HIV infections by 90% and why more European cities can do the same
- BASHH: BASHH/EAGA statement on HIV window period