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Viral load of 3 million
Apr 19, 2008

My brother quit taking his HIV drugs two years ago. A year ago he had his viral load tested and it was still undectable. Last week he ended up in the hospital with Septic Shock and his viral load came back as 3 million. I do not know what his CD4 count is. How serious is this? What is the difference between HIV vs AIDs?

Response from Dr. Holodniy

HIV infection becomes AIDS when the CD4 count is < 200 or < 14%. That is when the immune system is significantly impaired so that a person is susceptible to very serious opportunistic infections. A HIV viral load of 3 million is very high. An increase in viral load like that in the absence of HIV treatment is mostly likely the result of the infection causing sepsis. In most cases, the viral load will drift back down after the underlying infection is controlled or cured.



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