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viral load and log?

Dec 6, 2002

Dear Dr. Holodniy

I was recently diagnosed with a vl of 385,000 log 5.85 and CD4 of 39, after experiencing severe fatigue. I've started therapy and am on zerit, 3TC and lopinavir/ritonavir combo. My question is two-fold. First what does the log 5.85 mean and second, with current treatment how long will it take for my vl and CD4 levels to get down to acceptable levels?

Thanks in advance,

Response from Dr. Holodniy

You will have to endure a bit of a math lesson. HIV viral load is expressed many ways. First as an absolute number (like 385,000) or as a log 10 number (like in your case 5.58, not 5.85). You may remember that numbers are in base 10. So 10 is 1 log, 100 is 2 logs, 1000 is 3 logs and so on. Thus a number between 100,000 and 1 million will be 5+ logs in base 10. You often see changes in viral load expressed as absolute number, log change or fold change (like 20-fold, which equals 20 times). Hope it's not too confusing.

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