The Importance of Nucleic Acid Test (NAT)

Senior (College 4th year) ・Healthcare&Medicine ・MLA ・3 Sources

Nucleic acid test (NAT) is a sensitive method of testing blood. The test is used to detect human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), and the West Nile virus (WNV) in the blood. The nucleic acid test helps in screening blood donations so that risks of contacting Transfusion Transmitted Infections (TTI) are reduced among recipients. Therefore, this screening acts as an additional safety to the blood.

The nucleic acid test has its history from the 1990s and 2000s. Many countries in the world have recently started this NAT test for testing human immunodeficiency virus. The approximate numbers of countries which have implemented the NAT test are around 33, and those countries with Hepatitis B Virus are approximately 27. NAT practical is therefore specifically efficient for viral nucleic acid. The test aims at enlarging the main regions of the study of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) so that they can be discovered earlier as compared to other methods of screening. This helps in narrowing the window period infections such as HIV, and the HCV. NAT also ensure only reactive blood samples are used for donations. It does this by solving serological methods which are essential in providing notifications for the donor (Marshall et al. 30).

Why and When the Test is Performed

This test is done purposely to evaluate the exactness of the NAT in examining human immunodeficiency virus and hepatitis C virus. The test allows for early detection of viruses because of its capability in amplifying the nucleic acid found in a virus. The nucleic acid test is done when the donor’s blood is found positive for the human immunodeficiency virus. In HIV cases, NAT test is highly recommended. Patients who agree to this test are required to give their blood samples for a specific period. For example, they are required to give their sample for at least once a week for three consecutive months. The blood sample is carefully tested to detect whether the HIV is present. If the virus is found to occur in collected blood samples, no more samples will be collected. Participants will be advised accordingly on how they will handle themselves. The test is therefore done when blood donation is required because the screening reduces transfusion of infections like HIV.

Patient Preparation before Sample Collection and Type of Sample

Sample preparation for nucleic acid is a lengthy process which needs to be done with a lot of care. For example, for TB diagnosis, preparation is done by mixing the POC application and purifying the mycobacteria from sputum, and then the DNA purification follows lastly. Mycobacteria get concentrated by centrifugation. The pellets are therefore suspended in the buffer for purification. The mycobacteria can also be purified by washing or even filtration. Through all these, the samples collected will be ready for testing in the laboratory.
Before sample collection, patients should prepare themselves for the test in different ways. Patients are advised to ensure good health before the test is done. This is achieved by maintaining good health. The patients should not take any form of a drug before the blood test is carried out. Drugs will affect the glucose level in blood hence, difficult to detect a virus in the blood due to contamination. Nearing the period of test, the patient is not required to eat but rather drink a lot of water which will help blood flow in vain for easy collection. Because the results take some 2-3 hours to come out, the patient should wait for this time to get the feedback.

How the Test is Performed in the Laboratory with the Principle of the Test

Several laboratory tests are required from the health provider. The white blood cells, mainly the CD4 are the cells which support the immune system that is destroyed by HIV. This test is done by a CD4 measure which shows the number of CD4 cells in the blood. A healthy immune system should have a higher CD4 number of the cell. The CD4 cells count for a healthy person range from 500 to 1600cells. If the number of cells is less than 200, it will be a result of HIV which destroys the cells when one is infected. The advanced stage 3 of HIV infection can be easily identified by the lesser numbers of cells.

A CD4 count for cells is the best measure of the white blood cells. The D4 percentage also measures how many of the white blood cells are present in the CD4. Therefore, the cd4 is the most efficient measure to check how the patient’s immune system works in the laboratory. HIV viral load is also used to track the number of HIV particles in a sample of blood tested. Therefore, its main goal of HIV treatment is to ensure the viral load remains low so that viral detection can remain undetected. The viral load test in the laboratory is necessary so that HIV treatment will be well administered (Kallenborn et al. 291).

Interpretation of the Results

For a positive result interpretation, blood screening should be ensured for a confirmatory test (Fig. 1). It is important to start HIV treatment when you are diagnosed with the infection. ART medicine should be used by victims to reduce HIV transmission by slowing down its progression. It works by protecting the immune e system of a patient. For negative results, regular test is advised for proper clarification on one’s health (Granich et al. 54).

Works Cited

Granich, Reuben M., et al. "Universal Voluntary HIV Testing with Immediate Antiretroviral Therapy as a Strategy for Elimination of HIV Transmission: A Mathematical Model." The Lancet, vol. 373, no. 9657, 2009, pp. 48-57.

Kallenborn, J. Celeste, et al. "Emergency Department Management of Occupational Exposures: Cost Analysis of Rapid HIV Test." Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, vol. 22, no. 5, 2001, pp. 289-293.

Marshall, Deborah A., et al. "Cost‐Effectiveness of Nucleic Acid Test Screening of Volunteer Blood Donations for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and Human Immunodeficiency Virus in the United States." Voxsanguinis, vol. 8, no. 1, 2004, pp. 28-40.

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