HIV Viral Load

Testing Indications

Viral load testing is performed on patients known to be HIV positive.

Specimen Collection and Handling

Specimen Requirements

Test Requested Required Requisition(s) Specimen Type Minimum Volume Collection Kit

HIV Viral Load

Whole blood1

One 10 ml tube or, Two 7 ml tubes


HIV Viral Load


2.5 ml frozen plasma

Sterile screw capped vial

Submission and Collection Notes


Freshly drawn whole blood (EDTA) may be held at 15 to 30°C for up to 24 hours or at 2 to 8°C for up to 48 hours prior to plasma separation.


PPT tubes that have been centrifuged must be received at PHO Laboratory within 24 hours of collection-before 2:00 p.m. Monday - Friday.

Preparation Prior to Transport

Label the specimen container with the patient’s full name, date of collection and one other unique identifier such as the patient’s date of birth or Health Card Number. Failure to provide this information may result in rejection or testing delay.

Special Instructions

Place specimen in a biohazard bag and seal. Vials should be stored frozen following collection. Frozen specimens should be shipped to the nearest PHO Laboratory within 2-3 days to prevent delay in testing. Ship frozen on dry ice or ice packs.

Requisitions and Kit Ordering

Test Frequency and Turnaround Time (TAT)

HIV Viral Load is performed daily Monday to Friday.

Turnaround time is up to 6 days from receipt by PHO laboratory.


Results are reported to the ordering physician or health care provider as indicated on the requisition.

Test Methods

Specimens for quantitative HIV Viral Load are tested by RT PCR using the Abbott HIV 1 Viral Load Assay. The Abbott Real Time HIV 1 test uses the m2000 automated system. It is an in vitro reverse transcription - polymerase chain reaction assay for the quantitation of HIV 1 in human plasma.

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Laboratory Services

Updated 12 April 2019