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Viral Load Soon After Positive HIV Antibody Test

Aug 26, 1999

Hi, Being a gay man, I have been HIV tested routinely for years. In January, 99 I was tested negative. During a recent visit to my doctor for headaches and fatigue, I requested we test HIV. It came back positive. He said when positive (ELISA), they retest. When both are positive, they automatically do a Western Blot. It was positive. He said it left the medical establishment virtually 100% sure I am positive. Two weeks later, I had the Viral Load and CD4 testing done. VL was undetectable (to <20 copies) and the CD4 T-cell count was 1204. Now he is not so sure and is redoing the HIV antibody test. Not knowing the exact date of exposure, do you think my VL should be zero if really positive? I couldn't see any responses as to exposure and VL showing up timeframes.

Response from Dr. Holodniy

It is possible, but rare, to be in early chronic infection and have an undetectable viral load and normal T cell count.An additional confirmatory test would be a HIV DNA PCR test, which detects HIV inside blood cells.


Viral Load in HIV-1 and HIV-2
Unsure about Antibody & PCR tests

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