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Viral Load Amounts
Sep 6, 2002

I was diagnosed with hiv/aids in December last year. I thought I had flu which progressed to PCP and after a bronchoscopy my lung collapsed.They seem to think I have had this a long time. I had tested negative ten years ago and three years ago I initially had 90 t cells and a viral load greater than 750,000 copies.I went on Viramune and Combivir and within a month my t cells were at 448 and viral load at 2329. I then had liver problems and stopped meds after liver tests and my t cells went to 325 and my viral load to 5803 ( no meds for 10 days) I am now on viracept and combivir which I am tolerating well.My t cells have fluctauted between 407 down to 341 and are now 344. My viral load has been as low as 976 and is now 3624( goes up and down between about 1000 and 1500 copies each test which was monthly and is no bi monthly) I have had cellulitis and allergies and a summer cold in this time along with pnuemonia, flu and hepititis shots so who knows what an accurate reading is My doctor does not seem concerned about these changes and thinks they are all acceptable.I am very happy with him and he is a professor and specialist in NYC.Obviousally we are hoping for higher t cells and lower viral load but he says he would be surprised if I am failing on these meds already. Is it possible to stay healthy at these levels?I feel great but have been told some people never reach undetectable and every body deals with this differently. I eat well, do not smoke and am moving out of a stressful job and city to live a quiter, less chaotic life.

Many Thanks This site is the best

Response from Dr. Little

Well the decision about how hard to push to achieve undetectable viral loads is a very individual choice and depends upon many factors. Having said this, we do know that the way drug resistance develops is by having ongoing viral replication (as evidenced by a detectable viral load - generally greater than 200-500 copies) and antiretroviral drugs in the blood stream - you have both. While it is true that you could do very well for a number of years, unless you and your doctor are satisfied with your current numbers, I would think you might do better with a more potent regimen which would fully suppress your viral load. The individual component of each person's case is what makes it so difficult to advise you - what is right for someone else may not be right for you. If you are concerned, I would suggest you talk to your doctor about more potent regimens (the potential risks and benefits) and consider whether the risks are right for you.

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