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Understanding the percentages
Feb 12, 2006

Hello. I am 25 years old and have been positive for two years. As of my last lab work today my T-Cell count is 362 and my Viral Load is 160,000. This took me by surprise because when I last had my blood work done a month ago my CD4 was 350 and my Viral Load was 70,000.

My doctor recommended that I start taking Kaletra and Truvada as an introductory regimin that would probably change within 6 months to something "less toxic".

When I asked him how he discerned when I should start treatment and why my Viral Load went up he said that it just does that sometimes and that what matters is the ratio/percentage and that mine was just below 20%. Could you help me understand what the ratio/percentage means exactly? I'm worried about starting treatment with my busy college schedule and would like to know if there are any holistic/organic means that could help me lower my Viral Load number.

Thank You.

Response from Dr. Holodniy

No to the holistic/organic approach as a single strategy. The ratio probably refers to the CD4/CD8 count ratio. The percentage refers to the CD4 cell percentage. A percentage of < 14% indicates someone has AIDS and is at great risk for developing serious opportunistic infections as a complication of HIV infection. So if you are < 20%, I can understand his concern. The viral load test can vary by about 3 fold (3 times) up or down. Although that looks like a significant increase, it is within assay variability. All that said, your viral load is reasonably high and your CD4 count and percentage are in the range where many providers would recommend starting treatment.



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