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Opportunistic Infections and Viral Load
May 1, 2011

Hi,

I notice that this website gives a T-cell range where people may be susceptible to certain opportunistic infections. Is the same true of viral level? Could one assume that a person with an undetectable viral level would be less likely to have an opportunistic infection?

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

HIV plasma viral load tests are a measure of viral activity (viral replication). This is not directly linked to risk of HIV-associated opportunistic infections or malignancies. HIV viral loads, however, will lead to declining CD4 counts. CD4 counts are a measure of immune integrity. When they fall below certain levels, the immune system is no longer able to effectively fight off certain infections. Certain pathogens (germs) can then take the "opportunity" of the immune system being deficient to wreak havoc. That's why they are called "opportunistic." That was the long answer to your question. The short answer is no.

Dr. Bob


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