Dr. Tan and Partners is one of the few approved Anonymous HIV Testing Centres in Singapore. A detailed write up on our service is available here.

Other STD services: Early STD Screening, Rapid Hepatitis B Blood Test, Swab for Gonorrhea and many more... contact us to make an appointment now!

HIV RNA / DNA PCR Test – Nucleic Acid Amplification Testing (NAAT)


a.k.a Nucleic Acid Amplification Testing (NAAT)

The HIV RNA test has revolutionized HIV screening especially for people at high risk.

The test directly measures the amount of HIV virus in a person’s blood.

This same test is also used to monitor how a person with HIV is responding to treatment. When used this way, it is called a Viral Load test.

The HIV RNA test is deemed to be 100% conclusive if done after 10 to 12 days from the date of exposure.

Click on the picture for the latest information on the HIV testing Window Period

Click on the picture for the latest information on the HIV testing Window Period

There are some theories that say this test becomes less accurate from about 3 months post exposure. This is because at 3 months post exposure, the body would have made antibodies to fight the HIV virus. Therefore, the amount of virus in the blood may drop below the detection limit of the RNA test.

Acute HIV infection is very challenging to identify because its symptoms are not specific and antibody tests often are either still negative or indeterminate. However, this is also the time when an infected person is most contagious due to a high viral load. Detection of acute HIV infection not only enables us to counsel the patient on taking active steps to reduce transmission, it also enables us to better identify potentially infected partners as the time span we need to focus on is still relatively short.

Currently the vast majority of HIV tests are conducted using antibody tests. These include rapid tests such as Oraquick™ (Rockeby) and Determine™ (Abbott) and also conventional blood ELISA tests.

The limitation of antibody tests is the window period. Antibody tests may not be able to pick up HIV infections for up to 3 months after an individual is infected. This is far from ideal because this is exactly the period that a person is most infectious with the highest viral load. Acute HIV infection contributes disproportionately to HIV transmission due to its high viral load and negative antibody tests.

NAAT tests for HIV require only 10 days post exposure to be accurate. It is the only option for detecting HIV infection before seroconversion.

Click here for HIV Testing FAQ

Benefits of NAAT include:

  1. Earlier identification of infected persons leading to reduced transmission risks
  2. Facilitate partner identification, counseling and testing
  3. Early diagnosis leads to early initiation of follow up and treatment leading to better prognosis

However, NAAT increases the cost and turnover time for HIV testing.

A screening program for Acute HIV Infection using pooled NAAT was successfully conducted by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene1. Specimens from all patients whose rapid HIV antibody test was negative were tested by polymerase chain reaction in pools of 512 specimens. If the pool was positive, component specimens were tested to identify which specimen(s) contained HIV RNA. The report findings confirmed that pooled NAAT can increase Acute HIV Infection diagnoses among high risk STD patients. It can also be used to identify areas or populations in which HIV infection is spreading.

The usual turnaround time is 2 weeks.

However, the Lab can conduct an expedited test for a surcharge.

If you wish to have a HIV RNA test done, please come down to our clinic.

There is no preparation like fasting necessary.

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Need more advice?

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All Our Doctors are Fully Certified and Trained to conduct specialised STD Screening,  STD Testing & STD Treatment and HIV Testing.

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Our Andrology and Infection Centre at Novena Medical Center is open.Call us at 63972095 now to book your appointment.Feel free to email your queries, feedback and suggestions on what other topics you want to see in the comments section below.If you have any questions, visit our free online forum on sexual health, HIV and STDs.1. CDC. MMWR, November 27, 2009/58(46);1296-1299

About Dr. Tan
Dr. Tan graduated from the National University of Singapore in 2001. His residency was in the two largest public hospitals in Singapore; Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Singapore General Hospital.

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  1. Hi doc,
    I plan on taking a rna test 12 days after exposure, if test comes back negative will my results be conclusive or will I need to take another test?
    Also have you heard if the STDcheck.com package is alright way of testing?

    • While it would be a very good indication, it would still be recommended to do a 4th generation combo test at 28 days or later.

  2. Dr, jun here i will plan to do the pcr rna test. There are few things i need ask.
    1. My expose was 13 march and test if conduct in 23 march but the time will be slightly diffetent for few hours maybe like 9days 20hours. Is the test result still accurate?

    • Dr my expose was protected vaginal sex with a lady. No oral sex.
      1. She was tested begative 4th gen test at the same day of expose with me.

    • Dr. Julian Ng


      The window period for 4th Generation HIV test is 28 days post-exposure, thus you will need to be retested after 28 days post-exposure.

      • Ok thks dr but dr if i go for the pcr rna test. Si if the 13 march is my expose date but i done at day 23 march but no the excartly tine maybe 9days 22hours. So the test will accurate?

        • Dr. Julian Ng


          HIV RNA PCR is not the recommended test for HIV screening. Thus my suggestion is still to repeat the 4th generation HIV test 28 days post-exposure.

          • Ok thks dr i will get a proper assessment with my local dr and go through everythings.

          • Dr julian, i just received my pcr rna test. It is undetectable. But i was worried:
            1. Pep taking 1 day then discontinue so will it effect the result?
            2.the test will difference if conduct at 10days (9days 20hours)? Or it is good indication?

  3. Greetings
    I had contact with a sex worker with a condom, but after the ejaculation, the condom was down.
    21 day test pcr rna qualitative and quantitative negative
    42 day test pcr rna is qvalitative and negative
    8 weeks combo ag / ab negative
    10.5 weeks combo ag / ab negative.
    Do I have to do a re-test after 12 weeks. I have inflamed lymph nodes.submandibular on both sides and one on the neck. The rest of the symptoms I do not have maybe a little of my legs hurt

    • Dr. Julian Ng


      The 4th generation HIV Combo is generally conclusive 28 days post-exposure. If you are concerned about your other symptoms as they may not be related to HIV, please visit a doctor for further evaluation. If you prefer, you may visit us at: http://www.drtanandpartners.com/where-to-find-us/

      • thanks for your reply
        Do I need to test again or not?
        my doctor says it’s possible that my lymph nodes have been inflamed by some inflammation.
        maybe because of teeth or throats.
        My question is whether I need to worry about hiv or not because I’m worried and scared a little. And should I need to test again after 12 weeks.

        • Dr. Julian Ng


          I would say that your tests are conclusive.

  4. Docter I had sex with a cal girl on 6 th march. I do not know her status. I did oral on her without any protection but i think she did not came off. And the i had sex with protection with her but she used hair oil while having it. I was using natural rubber latex condom. I hav read now that oil is not recommended. But after sex i checked the condom filling it with water, it was not broken. Now i am having throat infection on 5th day after the encounter. Plz guide and reply.

    • Dr. Julian Ng


      You are correct that use of oil on latex condoms can potentially compromise the integrity of the condom. If you are concerned, please visit a doctor for further evaluation. If you prefer, you can visit us at: http://www.drtanandpartners.com/where-to-find-us/

      • Can sore throat occur on 4-5th day after sexual encounter. But my condom didnot broke. Can it happen by oral. The sore throat is not painful but can see white sore in mouth near tonsil which cause dryness. Plz tell.

        • Dr. Julian Ng


          The symptom of sore throat may or may not STD-related. As I suggested previously, please seek further assessment from a doctor.

          • Now i m frustrated and cant think properly. I had peletine tonsil on 6 day with white spots without pain but also had dry cough for 1 week. Cant sleep due to stress. No other symptom. My 36 day tridot test is negative. Plz anybody help. Damn stressed.

  5. Sakthi

    Thanks for your reply I had Elisa test at 64 days mark result came back negative my last episode in last July 2017 after that I had hiv 1amd 2 pcr qualitative all came back negative up to December can I go for further or this test is enough

  6. Vaibhav

    Sir I have heard from a doctor that hiv can remain dormant for upto 10 years it does not mean you are 28 day post negative or 40 day post upto 10 years it may come positive
    Is it true he say window period is dormant period and of 10 years
    What dormant means exactly ?

  7. Lakshminan

    Last December 28 th I gone for blood test that time lab technician used old vacuum holder with new needle that time I asked him about he said no problem it’s new method ,
    Now I have a fear of hiv and other diseases it’s possible to getting that way
    Last feb antibody test result is negative but my body pain and Thoth sore present in last two months any symptoms of hiv this is

    • Dr. Julian Ng


      It is exceedingly unlikely that you could have been transmitted HIV given your scenario. There is no specific symptom that would indicate a person has been infected with HIV. If you are concerned, please contact a doctor for further evaluation.

      • Sakthi

        Doctor can I go for combo test now iam in 60 th day it will show my clear result

        • Sakthi

          Wether Test is required or not sir plz suggest me

        • Dr. Julian Ng


          Generally, the window period for HIV 4th generation Combo is 28 days. Thus if you test after 28 days, it is conclusive.

          • Sakthi

            Thanks for your reply I had Elisa test at 64 days mark result came back negative my last episode in last July 2017 after that I had hiv 1amd 2 qualitative all came back negative up to December can I go for further or this test is enough

  8. Hai doctor I had sex with sex worker from that day I have leg burning problem I went for health checkup my doctor say vitamin b12 problem 175 then I gone for hiv DNA pcr 1 and 2both are negative after 5 month and normal antibody test is nagative but Iam feeling to tired still I am using protected sex with my wife kindly help all DNA pcr test are believe in this mark or any issue

  9. Dear Dr.Tan,
    I had taken 24th day NAT test after exposure.Result is “Not Detected”.Is it possible to change negative to positive after 24days?
    Thanks and regards

    • I would consider your test essentially conclusive. But PCR testing is still not officially recommended for HIV diagnosis, and you would be advised to do a 4th generation antigen/antibody test to confirm.

  10. WantToGetTested

    Hi Doc, i had a unprotected episode on the 1st of Feb, How long will the test results of the RNA PCR NAAT test take to get results after expediting it? Can i get it on the same day? Or do i still need to wait a few days?

  11. Is fasting neccessary for hiv1 quantative rna real time pcr test

  12. After 20 day of unprotected sex hiv1&2 antibody screening test 4th generation was non reactive
    Is it normal or further testing is needed

  13. Hai doctor can I get hiv through French kissing but that time I cleaned my dental some bleeding also happening I observed ,

    • But she don’t have any dental problem she is my x girl friend after some days I had VDRL test the test shows VDRL positive 1:4 ratio kindly suggest me any problem

  14. After unprotectd sex
    11 days after hiv 1 rna quantative real time pcr test
    Results target not detected
    Sample given does not contain hiv 1 rna
    Not qualitative test
    It was quantitative
    Is it conclusive

    • I would consider this test conclusive. But if you are still concerned, you may do a 4th gen antigen/antibody test at 28 days post-exposure.

      • On 20 th day of exposure my hiv 4th generation test was non reactive
        Is it conclusive
        Or further need of test

  15. I just want to know about hiv1 pcr rna qualitative I did it two weeks after the exposure and it came back negative but the thing is that it’s written limit of detection is 278 copies/ml I want to know is this test because more accurate when the limit of detection is less? And how accurate is my test?

  16. Hello doctor sorry for my bad English
    I had sex with a girl from the club and I really regret about it.
    I did a hiv 1 pcr rna qualitative test two weeks after the exposure which came back non detected but the thing is I did it in a lab in malaysia and I couldn’t meet the doctor he is not there he is on mc. What i want to ask you is that it’s written in the report the the limit of detection is 278 copies/ml what does this mean is there any different between the copies I mean if it is less copies it will be more accurate or vice versa. Because i sow on internet that the pcr is 50< I'm really confused
    And how accurant is my result in 2 weeks

    • I would consider your tests essentially conclusive, although officially RNA testing is not used for diagnostic purposes, and you should probably do an antigen/antibody testing if you wish to be complete.

  17. Good evening Doctor; Started with flu cold symptoms beginning of December got a 4th generation on December 13,2017 which was nonreactive also got a rna hiv on January 11,2018 non detected. But still not feeling well, muscle pain, severe headaches and loose green stool. Am really concerned and at this point am tweeking. Possible exposure on September 19,2017. Should I consider another test?

  18. Hello doctor,

    I have protected intercourse no condom break or tear vaginal intercourse lady on top of me. I have some skin irritation on my genetical skin at time of intercourse.
    my dought is when she is on top of me some vaginal fluids might enter threw skin irritation.i don’t know her HIV status .

    I have tested p24 antigen and antibody test CMIA METHOD at 22 days mark which was negative.

    I have tested for RNA pcr qualitative at 22 days mark which was “not detected”

    I have tested for RNA pcr quantitative at 30 days which has resulted at less than <39.1 which is below detectable levels.

    I am having skin irritation threw out my body specially on palm I have seen 3 red dots with no itching.

    Please doctor suggest me any tests are required.

    Is my RNA pcr qualitative test is considered. By 30 days some will develop enough virus to test by RNA PCR QUALITATIVE.


  19. prathap

    DEAR DOCTOR TAN,, please reply me , i was in doubtful and worried…. doctor. ..
    this is my last question..pls

  20. prathap

    Hi doctor can you explain plz rna pcr qualitative undetected accuracy at ofter 1 year , or naat only the accurate test in India lot of confusion plz give your valuable advice some one say qualitative is not accurate plz explain doctor it will clear lot of people doubt

    • Did you read the article? “The HIV RNA test is deemed to be 100% conclusive if done after 10 to 12 days from the date of exposure.”

      • prathap

        i will do hiv rna pcr qualitative test not quantitative…
        this hiv rna pcr qualitative test done ofter one year….100% iam negative… or not..
        what is the different qualitative pcr and quantitative pcr..explain me …

  21. prathap

    Tq sir…
    What is the hiv rt pcr qualitative test windowperiod.
    Ofter 13 months my rna pcr qualitative test result is accurate or false negative.
    Pls suggest me iam fully worried..
    Thaks sir agin

  22. prathap

    Hi sir…
    Dear Sir,
    I had unprotected vaginal sex with a woman. Later on 8 months I found out she had HIV positive.
    1).What are the chances a single exposure hiv transmission.2).ofter 8 months hiv westren blot negative.3).ofter 1 year hiv elisa test also negative.
    4).ofter 1 year hiv,hcv,hbsag,tpha,vdrl antibodies test are all negative.5).ofter 1.3 months hiv RT PCR qualitative test not detected it is 100% conclusive 6).today alere hiv AG/AB test negative.7).Does it mean I can forget about it and go on with my life?8).iam move on my wife with out condom?
    iam fully worried iam infected with hiv or not. pls iam fully confused clarify me one by one pls sir…
    i hope your clarify my confusion….
    Thank you….. in advance ……….

  23. 22 days pcr rna test window period is conlclusive

  24. 8 months back hiv westren blot, hiv elisa test negative.1 year Rt PCR QUALITATIVE NON DETECTED Iam 100% hiv free sir tell me
    Iam only unprotected single exposer (vaginal) hiv positive girl..
    What is the chance single exposer…hiv transmission…
    I have no symptoms….
    But my brain is full hiv thinking pls clarify me sir.

    Regards..thank you…sir

  25. Hi sir , i had 4 gen test by cima method ag/ab test on 36 day negative and rna pcr quantative for hiv 1 at 47 days .result target is not detected, my question is that rna pcr quantative is conclsive after 48 days and my test are conclusive or not . Because i felt seroconversion symptomps in 2 weeks like rash fatiuge on my body.

    • Yes they are conclusive.

      • Again i did cima test for ag/ab come non reacvtive for both at 51 days do i need further testing …. i mean i am clean or wait for 3 months

        • If your previous tests are already conclusive, what do you think I will say about this test? Of course it is conclusive. Move on with your life.

  26. hey, i once haf intercourse with a hooker.

    i used condoms,
    in fact i double layered.

    she was on top of me and i lay on the bed.

    the intercourse lasted less than a min.

    i saw my semen still in the condom.
    i doubt there was a leakage.

    as i read, some said there’s a high chance of condom breakage as i doubled it.

    what i wanna ask is,
    would it be of high chance for me to contract any std from the other party.

    • It is not advisable to double-layer condoms because there is increased risk of breakage and slippage. Please visit us for a proper consult and evaluation.

    • Don’t panic Sir I am also same case but till 4 month test came negative but if u wory all symptoms will occur then u will go behind the test take simple take simple antibody test at 8 weak mark or 12 weak mark

  27. Hi doctor can you explain plz rna pcr qualitative <20 copier /ml accuracy at 17 days , or naat only the accurate test in India lot of confusion plz give your valuable advice some one say qualitative is not accurate plz explain doctor it will clear lot of people doubt

  28. Hai doctor my 17 days rna pcr test negative and antigen and antibody test also negative at 39 days mark shall I take its conclusive or any possible

  29. Dear doctor, only one help my wife also have same symptoms like muscles shaking and shoulder pain every thing last time my sexual expose condom broken I noticed . Kindly help me I also diagnostic with vitamin b12 may take up my window period

  30. Hai doctor I had sex with sex worker without condom after my expose I did three month hiv test and fourth month hiv test both negative my doctor dignouse I have b12 deficiency but I am good non vegetarian all over my body pain I’d ther from last three months can I go for further test or this Mark ok

  31. Hello doctor pleaae help me .. i do a rna quantitative test 17 days after posible infection, it comes negative.
    But I do take PEP for only 3 days on days 3,4 and 5 then I stop the medicine because it get me sik
    So posible infection day 8 PEP day 10 11 y 12 same month … rna quantitative test day 27
    Can I consider the test acurate or I need to take one more? Also I got flue shot today so of I need to do an other test when is a good time to do it after my flu shot
    Thank so much

    • I believe your tests are essentially conclusive.

      • Thanks doctor I probably gping to do one more Because im on a lot of anxiety Does the flu shot can afect the results for a rna test?

  32. nantamilan

    HAi doctor i had un protected sex with sex worker and igot leg burning and pain in my body after 21days and i gon for hiv test 28 days duo – result negative and after three month same duo test result also negative and fourth month antibody test result also negative but i have same problem still now my test are conclusive or i should go for another 6 month test

    • Your tests are conclusive.

      • Nantamilan

        Doctor my 4 month negative can possible to turn positive at any where or I have to move for 6 month test l have some burning symptoms

        • Nantamilan

          Plz reply me doctor your silent I’d killing me daily ur reply all the person questions y not for me

  33. Hi doctor..I had anal intercourse with women at November 10th 6.30pm..at November 20th morning 8am I gave blood for RNA PCR Qualitative test..it was undetected..am I safe?

    • I would consider your result essentially conclusive but officially you should repeat with a 4th gen combo test at 28 days.

  34. Hai doctor thanks for your help as your said my 108 days hiv test result is conclusive i agree but i have one doubt in your experience you seen any 3 month negative turn positive in afterwards kindly suggest me your people are well expert in the test method but i have vitamin b12 deficiency and uric acid level high problem that may affect my result

  35. Replay me sir i am waiting your answers

  36. Hi sir i am male from india, i had sexual high risk exposure (unprotected sex)with nurse unknown status.but ofter 9 months she was hiv positive. My self test after 8 months westernblot test that was also negative, then after 9 months tested by two tridot test result was negative ,now hiv tridot test after 10 months the result is negative. i have some ques regarding this:
    1) is hiv 4th generation test conclusive after 8 months?2) is any case who takes more than 1 year to show positive result?3) is hiv 4th generation test detects all sub type?4) is 10 months long enough for hiv testing or i have to wait more?5) i will go for hiv viral load test ?

  37. Hai doctor I had sex with sex worker with out condom after some days my body stated pain different places like shoulder and leg muscles and hand muscles I refer the Nero doctor they said my vitamin b12 is low 170 only after 3 month 105 days I had antibody test came back negative but still I have same problem now my wife also suffering sevier headache I am wondering kindly suggest me doctor the same time my white blood and red blood cell are high level any further test is required or this is concluded can I say hiv free or I have to go for six month test in India all said 6 month only conclusive plz tell me the fact doctor

  38. Doctor, I got a PCR 14 days after possible expossure to HIV and it came back as not detected. Today, 23 days after exposure I’ve got a sore throat. Could it be HIV? Are my test results conclusive?

  39. Hello doctor, im 32 male and 6 months ago i had an anal intercourse with a CSW(me insertive). At that time i had a genital herpes sore at the middle of my penis. We used condom which didn’t slip or break. However i am worried that the sore might got exposed at sometime. At the 5th day i had a weird feeling in my throat and a mild fever (37) which lasted for about 5 days.
    Since then i have done soo many tests which all came negative but i cannot get peace of mind.
    From time to time i might get some weird feeling in my armpit and also at 10 weeks i had a severe genital herpes outbreak, which also caused my groin area to swell according to my doctor. Im in a stable relationship, and some days ago my partner got mild sick with mild sore throat and a runny nose and eyes, no fever.
    What are the chances of me being infected and not showing on the tests? Can it be any rare virus strain that tests cannot pick up ?
    Here are the test so far:
    2weeks hiv1 proviral DNA pcr
    3weeks hiv1 RT-PCR RNA
    5weeks hiv1,2 ab-ag EIA
    8weeks hiv1 RT-PCR RNA / hiv1,2 ag-ab
    8weeks hiv1,2 ag-ab ECLIA
    9weeks hiv1,2 ag-ab / hiv2 RT-PCR RNA
    10weeks hiv1,2 ab-ag EIA
    15weeks hiv1,2 ab-ag
    23weeks INSTI hiv1,2 rapid test
    24weeks hiv1,2 ag-ab ECLIA

    Thanks in advance for your time

    • Your tests are conclusive and excessive. I would recommend you see a psychiatrist for your anxiety.

      • Sir

        i have Hiv duo test at 28 days mark which was non reactive after possible exposure

        And Hiv RNA detection at 44 days mark by taqman which came back hiv rna not detected <20 copies per ml what would be my hiv status

  40. Hi Dr
    Is a 84 day PCR HIV test followed by an 87 day Antibody/Antigen test conclusive? or do i need to go after 90 days
    Thanks for your time

  41. Hai doctor i had sex expose with cws but i used 2 condom at same time i dont no condom status wether tore or not after some days i had hiv test CMIA method 39 day negative and 106 days same antibody test with P24 antigen result negative but i have leg pain and muscles pain in different area weather i have to take 6 month test or the test ok shall i move my normal life i have small family thats my worry for my mistake my should not affect plzz advice me

    • Your tests are conclusive – no HIV. Two condoms at the same time is not the correct way to use condoms and will increase the risk of breakage or slipping.

  42. hi doctor, i did both RNA/DNA PCR at exactly 55 days from my last exposure. are my results conclusive or i need to test again

  43. Leong Heng

    Doctor,if I do alere hiv combo finger prick rapid test on days 28,can I rule out hiv infection.I am very worried.

  44. Hi doctor,is there any chances my viral load below that 40ml/copies at days 14 which the test method cannot detect the viral because the detection limit is 40ml/copies.

  45. Doctor,I have taken rna test at days 14 using test method by caphied hiv viral load the result is not detected.May I know did my result conclusive? And may I know what method that your clinic using for rna test.

  46. Hai doctor same I have leg pain and muscles in last 60 to 70 days after my sex expose it was started now I was 98 days , all ready I taken 39 days duo and 17 days rna pcr hiv 1 and 83 days hiv antibody test all the test result came negative and my worries I taken normal rapid card test in 93 days mark negative plz tel me I want to wait more days or I can move for my normal life

  47. Hi doctor,I have taken hiv rna viral load test on days 14 last exposure but the test detection limit is 40ml/copies which means if the viral load lower than that is consider undectable.Is it possible my body does not make enough viral load for the test to detectable on days 14.And in your clinic what is the detection limit of rna test that your clinic using.

  48. Hi doctor I have sex with CSw I got 90 days hiv test negative and 46 days duo negative any further test required but I have leg pain and shoulder pain problem this treatment may affect my window period kindly help me can I move with my normal life

  49. i heard that the PCR RNA test looks only for HIV 1 in the blood what about HIV 2?

  50. Hello doctor, I am 29 years old male. I had protected sex with a masseuse on 9/7 and 9/18 (different masseuse each time. HIV status unknown).

    I took 3rd gen. rapid test on 10/16 which came back as negative (28 days from the last exposure)

    I took 4th gen. rapid test (Alere Determine), 4th gen. HIV test (blood drawn from vein), and HIV RNA test on 10/18 and results all came back as negative. (30 days from the last exposure)

    I took another 4th gen. rapid test (Alere Determine) on 10/20 and the result came back as negative. (32 days from the last exposure)

    Can I consider my test results as conclusive? I am planning on to take another 4th gen. test (blood drawn from vein) on 6 weeks mark.

    Thank you!