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Can stress cause blipping?
Jan 25, 2009

I have been an elite controller for the past 5 years, and have never been on meds. I am a participant in all of the major studies. My VL remains <50 except for one or two tiny blips of <100 during the year. My first 3 years were blip free. I have been under extreme stress during the past 6 months due to my job loss. I have had sleepless nights, and seem to never be able to get a full night of sleep due to worry. My last CBC showed a reduction of lymphocytes and a blip of 66 copies. My cd4 percentage was 51% and cd8% was 25%. My cd4 count fluctuates greatly due to the time of day taken. This time it was 789. Can stress cause blips? Is the stress destroying my good health? Are these tiny blips a sign the virus is taking a stronger hold, and that I will eventually lose control?

Response from Dr. Holodniy

All good questions. Unfortunately we don't have an answer as to whether stress itself can cause viral load fluctuations. Part of the reason is we don't have a good way to objectively measure one person's vs. another person's stress. It's conceivable that stress hormones could activate some CD4 cells to cause HIV replication and hence registering a detectable viral load. I think in your case it's more likely that this is assay variability and not your virus.



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