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Residual Viral Load Suppression post-meds

Feb 27, 2012

What is the typical (ballpark) amount of time after someone lowers their viral levels with medication, before the viral levels creep back up into detectable range?

In other words, what is the typical "residual effect" period of meds, if a person has been on them for a few weeks to lower their viral levels?

I would assume that half life might come into play here even after the last pill was taken, just like if one were to go on antibiotics for a few days, it stays in the system and continues to work for X number of days.


Response from Dr. McGowan

After the virus is completely suppressed it would generally take about 1 wwek to 10 days before detectable virus would be measureable in the blood. Of course the virus is starting to grow sooner but the levels explode up after several days. It is generally safe, for example, to hold someone's meds for a few days if they are having surgery and can't take food by mouth (NPO). This would not apply if someone had not yet achieved full viral suppression in which case the viral level would dip down and quickly rebound.

It is best not to allow the virus to regrow if possible because it will allow "seeding" of uninfected cells and grow the pool (or archive) of resting CD4 cells that can be the reservoir for drug resistance and ongoing immune activation (inflammation) in the body.

Best, Joe

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