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worried about my viral load
Nov 16, 2006

I recently learned that I am HIV positive. My best guess for when infection occurred is about three years ago. I feel great and haven't been sick in years, so I was shocked to learn that my viral load was over 100,000 and my cell count was 251. Both of these numbers seem very grim to me, and it scares me that it could have progressed to this stage so rapidly, especially as I don't seem to have any symptoms at this point.

How concerned should I be that I might have a particularly aggressive strain of HIV that will progress quickly? I have not yet started medication, but will most likely be doing so soon.

Response from Dr. Wohl

The decline in CD4 cells is driven by the viral load. This makes sense: the more virus eating up CD4 cells, the faster the CD4 counts drop. You have a high level of virus. This may be because your virus replicates well and/or because the immune system you inherited is not particularly aggressive when it comes to HIV. But, your situation is a common one and I do not think anything extraordinary is going on. I would not delay therapy any longer. Start now while you are feeling well.

DW



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