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viral load increase

Oct 21, 2002

On 9/6/02, my Tcells were 542 and my viral load was 36,000. As of 10/18, my Tcells increased to 845 but my viral load also increased to 46,000. My doctor has told me to worry more about the Tcell total and not the viral load but I would like to know which I need to be concerned with more. Can you also please explain to me exactly what the viral load is and how it is defined by increasing in 6 weeks time from 36,000 to 46,000 ?

Response from Dr. Holodniy

The viral load is the amount of HIV RNA per milliliter of blood plasma. Although it appears that your viral load has increased by some 10,000/ml, this is actually just "noise" in the assay. Viral load results can very by 2-3 fold (times) if you were to repeat the sample or if you draw different blood samples close together. Your absolute CD4 count can also vary and can go up or down with stress, other ongoing infections, etc. The percent CD4 is a more stable number over time.

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