Expedited HIV Viral Load Testing Information

The 24/7 Illinois Perinatal HIV Hotline facilitates expedited Viral Load tests (HIV-1 RNA assays) for calls to the Hotline in which an urgent viral load test result is needed for clinical decision making. Tests are performed at the Northwestern Memorial Hospital Laboratory in Chicago.

  • If you require expedited viral load testing, you must first call the 24/7 Illinois Perinatal HIV Hotline at 1-800-439-4079.

  • All tests must be requested through the Hotline and ordered by a Hotline clinician or else they will not be processed.

Testing Schedule

  • Expedited viral load testing is done Monday – Friday and by special request only on Saturday and Sunday.
  • Specimens can be received at Central Specimen Receiving 24 hours a day, but specimens must be received by 10am for same day testing.

Specimen Collection and Requirements

  • Specimen must be collected in 2 dedicated, primary lavender top vacutainer tubes.
  • Specimen must be received in laboratory and spun down within 6 hours of collection. If unable to meet the 6 hour deadline, Lab will accept frozen Aliquots of Plasma. The Plasma Aliquot must be received with the original lavender top tubes and sent on dry ice.
  • Tube must be labeled with a minimum of 2 unique patient identifiers (Ex. name, date of birth, social security number).
  • Specimen must be accompanied by a completed Northwestern Memorial Hospital Laboratory Requisition.
  • Elements to be completed on requisition include:
    • Patient demographics: Identifiers on the tube must match the requisition
    • Ordering Physician Name: Dr. Lynn Yee
    • Test requested: HIV Viral Load
    • “Bill Laboratory Account” box should be checked and account #154461 (Mother and Child Alliance) should be used. Complete if information not pre-filled.

Shipment Instructions

  • Send the specimen STAT via FedEx, UPS or courier service. Place dry ice pack in the shipping box to keep sample frozen and ship to the following address:
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
Pathology Laboratory-Central Specimen Receiving
            251 E Huron Street
            Feinberg Pavilion, Rm. 7-307
            Chicago, IL 60611
  • Specimen shipment is the responsibility of the hospital sending the specimen. The 24/7 Illinois Perinatal HIV Hotline is unable to assist with arranging shipment.

Reporting of Results

  • The 24/7 Illinois Perinatal HIV Hotline ordering physician will be paged with the results of the viral load test and will report those results to the physician caring for the patient at the external hospital.
  • DO NOT contact the Northwestern Memorial Hospital Outpatient Laboratory directly as it is only authorized to release the results to Hotline ordering physicians and staff.
  • Please call the Hotline directly at 1-800-439-4079 if you have additional questions or need the test results faxed to you.

Billing Information

The 24/7 Illinois Perinatal HIV Hotline will be billed for the processing of the expedited test. It is imperative that you carefully follow the instructions above for completion of the laboratory requisition that must accompany the specimens.