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undetectable viral load and body tissues

Nov 24, 2001

My question is that now that I've reached 'undetectable' status in my blodstream, does this also equate the same for the body tissues? I know that HIV is found in all body tissues but no one can give me an answer or they don't understand the question. Does this also mean there is less HIV in seman/precum, thus less of a chance for my partner getting infected (through oral, condoms for anal sex). The second part of the question is how and why HIV thrives in the body tissues. I thought that cD4 cells were only found in the bloodstream. Does HIV use other body cells for replication also? Is it that the blood flowing into the tissues provides nurishment (cd4 cells) for an optimal environment? Please answer like a scientist so I can fully understand (I'm a science major and capable of understanding the terms used). On a happy note, I was diagnosed three months ago with a viral load of 500,000+ and cd4 cells of 33. I am now undetectable and cd4 cells are 195 (and counting!!!) A healthy lifestyle can go a long way!!

Response from Dr. Holodniy

Undetectable does not necessarily mean lack of HIV in other tissues. In most people with undetectable viral load in plasma, they still have infected cells within the lymph node tissues, which may or may not be producing infectious virus. In general, viral load in seminal fluid is about 10 times less than in blood plasma. However, there can still be infected CD4 cells in semen with an undetectable viral load in seminal fluid. CD4 cells are found throughout the body, not just in the blood. HIV can be found in other cells like monocytes/macrophages, which travel to all tissues. MH

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