An automated process for detecting the presence of a target nucleic acid in a sample. The process includes contacting a sample with a magnetically-responsive solid support and immobilizing a target nucleic acid present in the sample on the solid support. At a first station of an analyzer, the solid support is subjected to a magnetic field and the immobilized target nucleic acid is separated from a non-immobilized component of the sample. A solution comprising the separated target nucleic acid is moved to an incubator of a second station of the analyzer, where the separated target nucleic acid is subjected to an amplification procedure and an amplification product is formed. The amplification product is detected as an indication of the presence of the target nucleic acid in the sample.