HIV RNA Early Detection Testing

HIV is one of the most stigmatized and frightening STDs in the U.S. About 1 million people in the U.S. currently have HIV, and more than 41,000 new infections happen every year. While there is currently no cure for HIV, HIV RNA early detection testing is key to helping HIV positive individuals receive treatment that helps them live longer, happy lives.

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What is HIV?

HIV is a virus that breaks down certain cells in your immune system, making it easier for you to get sick and even die from infections your body could otherwise fight off. An HIV infection is carried in semen, vaginal fluids, blood and breast milk. The virus can infect you when a fluid carrying HIV makes contact with cuts or sores on your skin or mucous membranes such as the inside of the vagina, rectum and the opening of the penis. You can get an HIV infection from vaginal, oral or anal sex; sharing needles or syringes for drugs, piercings or tattoos; or otherwise having HIV-infected blood, semen or vaginal fluids come into contact with open cuts or sores.

In the U.S., HIV is most commonly spread through unprotected sex. An HIV infection can also be passed to babies during pregnancy, birth or breastfeeding. HIV isn’t spread through saliva, so you can’t get it from kissing or sharing food and drinks. You cannot get HIV from blood transfusions because the needles are not reused and all donated blood is tested for HIV and other infections.

HIV and AIDS are often linked together, but they are not the same disease. HIV is the virus that is passed from person to person. AIDS eventually results from the damage done to the immune system of a person with HIV. There is currently no cure for an HIV infection or AIDS, but modern medication and HIV RNA testing (also known as an HIV viral load test) allows many people with HIV to live long, healthy, happy lives and postpone the development of AIDS. It’s possible, with treatment, that a person with HIV may never develop AIDS.

Why Should I Order an HIV RNA Early Detection Test?

The earlier HIV is detected, the earlier you can begin treatment. A standard HIV detection test screens for antibodies that may take up to three months to develop, which means that a normal HIV test taken within those three months could return a false negative result. If you have reason to suspect you may have contracted HIV within the last three months, you should opt for an HIV viral load test instead. Similarly, an early detection HIV RNA test result may not be correct if you contracted HIV outside of that three-month window.

If you’ve had sex or shared needles with someone who is HIV positive, you should get an early detection HIV RNA test as soon as possible. You’re more likely to pass HIV to other people during that initial three-month window, so it’s important to get tested before you infect anyone else.

The HIV virus can be passed through vaginal fluids and breast milk, increasing the risk of passing the virus during childbirth and breastfeeding the baby. However, due to improved early testing, treatment and prevention, HIV transmission from mother to baby has decreased 95% since the 1990s. Pregnant women and their sexual partners should be tested for HIV and if positive for HIV, treated with anti-HIV medications to decrease HIV viral load. Treatment lowers the mothers HIV viral load, protecting her health and decreasing the risk of spreading the virus to the baby during childbirth. Babies born with HIV should start anti-HIV treatment early.


What are the Early Symptoms of HIV?

Many people who have contracted HIV don’t show symptoms for years and feel healthy, so they might not know they have it. Within the first two to four weeks after being infected with HIV, most people develop flu-like symptoms such as fever and aches. These symptoms typically last for a few weeks, and many people don’t exhibit symptoms again for years. Other less common symptoms include:

  • Body rash
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Severe headaches
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Vaginal infections
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Night sweats
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle aches and joint pain

If you have contracted HIV and it develops into AIDS, symptoms can include:

  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Skin rashes
  • Rapid weight loss
  • Thrush
  • Chronic infections
  • Bruising easily
  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Recurring fever
  • Recurring chills
  • Recurring night sweats
  • Shortness of breath
  • Coughing
  • Sores or ulcers in the mouth
  • Vaginal infections
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Persistent or prolonged swelling of the lymph nodes
  • Memory loss, confusion or neurological disorders
  • Lack of muscle control and intense numbness in hands and feet

How Long Should I Wait Before Getting Tested?

HIV RNA testing, or RNA testing, is conclusive 10 days post-contact. It’s recommended that you wait for this window period to pass in order to avoid returning an inaccurate test result. If a partner tests positive for HIV, you should get tested right away. If you suspect that you may have contracted HIV outside of the last three months, a standard HIV test may be more appropriate than an HIV RNA test.

What Are The Benefits of an HIV RNA Early Detection Test?

Early detection antibody tests and treatment is key to living a longer, healthier life with HIV. The sooner you know whether you have HIV or not, the sooner you can begin treatment.


With Priority STD Testing, you can schedule HIV testing as soon as you decide to get tested by either going online or calling. You won’t have to wait for your doctor to have availability. You can schedule a testing appointment right away. Appointments are available Monday through Saturday and typically take less than 15 minutes to complete.


At Priority STD Testing, we strive to make regular STD testing affordable, especially for individuals without insurance. We do not accept any form of private or federal health insurance, with the exception of allowing the use of health savings account (HSA) cards for payment. We do this so that your test results are not communicated to your insurance company and are not included as part of your medical record.

Peace of Mind

Finding out whether or not you have HIV can be scary, but the possibility of living with HIV and not knowing you have it is scarier. If you know you have HIV, you can begin treatment, and regular treatment is key to living a longer, healthier life and preventing AIDS. If you know you have HIV, you can warn past and future partners and help them live healthier lives, too.

How Do I Order an HIV RNA Early Detection Test?

Ordering an early HIV RNA test through Priority STD Testing is easy and can be done by phone. You can call any time Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CST, and our care counselors are ready to schedule your testing appointment and answer any questions you might have.

Reviewed on October 26, 2019

Our Tests are FDA Approved and Performed in CLIA Certified Labs