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viral load clarification.
Nov 22, 2009

diagnosed 9-08 after several visits to the doctor of the usual ARS symptoms, with no luck as to what was wrong. did the test, split elisa/western blot. a couple of months later, both positive.

took several months to finally get a specialist, and after a few insurance changes, settled with kaiser due to insurance issues. (had no idea hiv is also an income killer)

first test with doctor was 250 cd4 count and around 15,000 viral load (around 02-09). second specialist had to have their own tests VL around 18000 cd4 around 350's (04-09) by physician and 403/20566 by specialist. started meds in april. sustiva/truvada.

had about several labs since then. june cd4/524 vl/166, july cd4/536 vl/<48, august cd4/423 vl/<48, and the current one november cd4/537 vl/<48.

my doctor says it's not undetectable yet, which i don't understand because i thought anything under 50 is undetectable. has the standards change? is there a point that a machine can actually not detect any trace of the virus in the blood?

Response from Dr. Holodniy

Not sure what he might be meaning about that statement, unless he is looking at something else on the report. Some viral load test results could state the "approved" cutoff definition, in your case < 48, and also report an "unapproved, unvalidated" value somewhere betwee 0-46 copies. There are some approved tests that have a cutoff of < 40. I am not sure which test is being used in your case, as < 48 is not the usual cutoff number for most assays. There are some supersensitive assays that have a cutoff of < 5 copies, but these are not widely available. From a clinical management standpoint, the current benchmark is < 50 indicates undetectable.



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