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Importance of viral load info after high risk exposure and for prevention
Dec 15, 2004

I read a response to a guy who asked about the use of viral loads tests vs antibody testing in three months. I realize that the viral load is not diagnostic of HIV seroconversion, but it is important in prevention. Shouldn't people who have a high viral load and symptoms be told NOT to have sex, since they could be placing partners at risk? Why do you down-play the usefulness of knowing your viral load? Women are at higher risk during sex of getting HIV than men, and having sex with a guy who has a high viral load could be lethal for them!! By the time he knows he has the antibodies, he could have infected others! When I was in AFrica, they were trying to get this message out to women..why aren't we?

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

I think you may be confused. Let me try to explain. First off, I do not downplay the usefulness of knowing one's viral load, if (and that's a big if) one is HIV-positive. What I have repeatedly tried to stress is that due to limitations of viral load testing (false-positives, etc.), I do not recommend it for routine diagnostic screening, unless there are extenuating circumstances. The message we should be getting out to everyone is that if you've placed yourself at risk for HIV, you are possibly infected and therefore need to protect your partners.

Regarding women, did you know 92% of women carry lip protection, but only 10% of women carry HIV protection. Now there's a message we should be trying to get out to women. Don't you think?

Dr. Bob


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