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Getting tested - the PCR test

If an antibody test is positive, a second test will check if the virus is still present. Both tests are able to be done from one sample from you so it does not always mean that you have to get tested twice. However, some testing services still only test for the presence of antibodies first and then call you back for a further PCR test.

The PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test determines whether you are currently infected by detecting the presence of the genetic material of the virus in the blood. This genetic material is called RNA and this test is sometimes referred to as an RNA test.

Test results are generally reported as either ‘undetectable’ or ‘detectable’. Positive results are often given in terms of the amount of virus found in a unit of blood. This is called the viral load.

You should be given the results of both your antibody test and your PCR test at the same time. That way you immediately know whether you are currently infected and need to be referred to a specialist.