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Viral Load in Female patients
Jan 21, 1999

I have read some new but disturbing information for women. The news is that in female and male patients carrying the same viral load, women experience more rapid disease progression than do men. Have you read this information? Can you please offer an opinion on it's validity. Women need to know. Personally, mine has held at around 3000 until late last year, now it has risen to 21,000 in 11/98 and 12,000 in 1/99. I am not open to any drug therapy at this time.

Response from Dr. Holodniy

The study appeared in the journal The Lancet in November 1998. A few qualifiers. One this was done in injection drug users. The first sample was collected in 1988-89 and the follow up in 1992-3. This was in an era where the only therapy that was available was AZT. The study concludes that women in general had lower viral loads to begin with than men. The conclusion from the study was that women with half the viral load as men had a similar time to AIDS as men, or stated another way women who had the same viral load as men, had a 1.6 fold higher risk of developing AIDS. This was a retrospective epidemiology study. We don't know why this might occur. We also don't know whether effective therapy would change these findings. I suspect the would. Only a couple of studies have been published, but they indicate that women respond to antiviral therapy to the same degree as men. MH



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