Clinics offering Nucleic Acid Tests for HIV?

Nucleic acid testing is increasing in popularity thanks to the improved reliability these techniques can offer. In the field of HIV testing, having reliable detection methods is vital to ensuring that accurate results are reported to patients and the appropriate clinical action taken. In this article we take a quick look at where you can get nucleic acid testing (NATs) in the UK.

Are NATs available on the NHS?

Nucleic acid testing is used by some trusts in the NHS for the detection of HIV, however because of cost restrictions, antibody tests (the classic method of detecting the virus) are still broadly used. These antibody tests are also highly accurate and their use is widespread because of that. The main advantage of NATs is that their window period is substantially shorter, meaning that accurate testing can be performed much closer to the time of infection. The window period for NAT techniques at present is about 17 days compared to the 6 week to 6 month period generally advised for antibody testing.

Are NATs available privately?

There are a number of private firms that offer nucleic acid testing, either on its own or as part of a suite of blood tests. These companies offer the benefit of the latest technologies and equipment during the administration of what are probably the most developed HIV detection techniques available. The main caveat being, however, that you will have to pay for what is ultimately a costly test.

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