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Understanding Your LabsUnderstanding Your Labs
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labs & meds

May 21, 2007

My son was diagnosed HIV+ 3 months ago, and had an initial VL of 118,000 and T-Cell of 527. Recently he had labs done and VL went to 142,000, T-Cell to 407. I thought that assay variability means that these changes are not bad news, but he says that because his VL was so high to begin with, it is a very big deal. They took blood for a genotype test (no results yet) and plan to start meds in July. He is a smoker. Forgive my ignorance, but I'm trying to learn as fast as I can. There is just so much to try to get my arms around! What is the bottom line of these results? Are there specific questions I should be asking or telling him to ask? He is in a substance abuse inpatient program in another state, and communication is severely limited, and I have none with any doctors.

Response from Dr. Holodniy

Although that is a relatively high viral load, there is no real signficant difference between those two values. The assay can vary by as much as 3 fold (3 times), so those two values are well within assay variation.

cd4 405, vl 2005

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