Mar 12, 2006
That phrase always gets me (irrationally) annoyed. While I understand that a three-fold change in numbers (both CD4 as well as VL?) is within "assay variability," to a non-scientist that just seems "intuitively" difficult to accept. (It's a bit like quantum physics and string theory and Einsteinian thought experiments -- it all just seems bizarre to the uninitiated.) Let's say that one set of VL numbers was 50K; next one 130K -- within assay variability so not necessary bad news. Likewise a drop from 50K to, say, 20K is not necessaryily good news (viewed in isolation). Am I right so far?
By the way, these are not purely hypothetical examples: I've had a very difficult time convincing a friend that a jump from 7K to 14K doesn't mean that he's a rapid progressor, that we have to look at trends and CD4 absolute (in the 400s) and %ages (in the 20s) so treatment is almost certainly not indicated at this point...
So is there a way to explain "assay variability" to an intelligent curious layperson that will make it sound more "reasonable"?
Final note: it's struck me again how differently different people cope with tough news. I feel infinitely better and in at least some control the more information I have, so I tend to (over-) research HIV stuff; while others don't want any details, just "Is this good or is this bad?"
Thank you doc!
| Response from Dr. Holodniy
You are correct in your example of "assay variability". Always happy to entertain a better way to explain it.
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