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UW Health SMPH
American Family Children's Hospital

UW Hospital and Clinics Lab Test Directory

Test Name: HIV-RNA

Test Code(s): HIVRNA / XHIV1

CPT Code(s): 87536

Methodology: Reverse-Transcription plus Real-Time PCR

Clinical Significance: This test is not a screening test for HIV. This test is used to determine viral burden in known HIV-1 positive patients.

Days Performed: Twice a week-days vary.

Turnaround Time: Stat: Not available stat.
Routine: 5 days.

Specimen Requirements

Specimen: Blood

Collection Container: Preferred: Lavender top

Collection Volume: Preferred: 6 mL
Pediatrics: 2 mL

Sample Analyzed: Plasma

Volume Required: Preferred: 3 mL
Pediatrics: 1.2 mL

Specimen Processing: Separate cell-free plasma from whole blood and transfer to a sterile polypropylene tube within 6 hours of collection. Freeze plasma at -60 to -80C (preferred). Prior to freezing at -60 to -80C, EDTA plasma may also be stored at either 2 to 8C for up to 72 hours or frozen at -20C for up to 7 days.

Specimen Transport: Transport specimen to Core Laboratory (B4/220) immediately.

Outreach Specimen Transport: Transport frozen plasma on dry ice to Core Laboratory (B4/220).

Stability: Ambient: Whole blood - 6 hours
Refrigerated: Plasma - 3 days
Frozen: Whole blood - Not acceptable frozen; Plasma - 6 weeks at -70 C.


Interpretive Guidelines:

If HIV-1 is detected, two results are reported for each assay: a measured log10 copies/mL and a calculated copies/mL result.


Analytical measurement range of this assay is 20 - 10,000,000 copies/mL (1.30-7.00 log10 copies/mL). In patients where HIV-1 is detected but outside of the analytical measurement range (AMR), a result of <20 copies/mL or >10,000,000 copies/mL will be reported.  If no HIV-1 is detected, a result of "Not detected" will be reported.


Test Limitations:

This is a reverse-transcription real-time PCR assay. This assay is not a screening, confirmatory or test procedure for the diagnosis of HIV-1 infection.

Additional Information:

Specimens are assayed using the COBAS Ampliprep and COBAS Taqman methodology by Roche Diagnostics. This is a quantitative test for the HIV-1 virus group M subtypes A through H and HIV-1 group O.


This test is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

viral load

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