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VL test accuracy

May 20, 2001

I started HAART in May 2000 with a VL set point of 68,000 copies which gradually decreased to "<20" in the December 2000 test. I just got the results of my March 2001 test which showed a viral load of "20". Is "20" in fact higher than "<20" or could it just be a margin of error, so that I'm basically as "healthy" as back in December 2000? It's my first regimen and I'm 100 adherent so I really don't know what could be causing any VL rise...

Response from Dr. Holodniy

The assays have some degree of inaccuracy at that low level. In fact the reproducibility below 200 copies can be 3-4 fold. Many people experience what are called "blips", where the viral load will be <20, then 40, then < 20, then 65, etc. Data so far would suggest that almost all of these people remain with a suppressed viral load when this phenomenon is followed over a year. MH

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