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What's really important...viral load, cd4 cells or what?
Oct 6, 2008

I contracted the HIV virus in Dec 2006. I went on Atripla in November 2007 when my cd4 cells his the 400s. Here I am now with my viral load at undectable for almost a year now (it went to undectable within a month) and my cd4 cells are at 828 now. My question is, what's the important gauge? Is it viral load, cd4, or something else? Thanks!

Response from Dr. Frascino

The viral load is the most important indicator of how well your antiretroviral regimen is working. It reflects how well your medications are controlling HIV replication. That your HIV plasma viral load declined rapidly within one month on Atripla to undetectable levels and has stayed undetectable shows an excellent virologic response to treatment.

The CD4 count/CD4 percentage is a reflection of immune health. HIV can destroy CD4 cells. That your CD4 cell count has risen from the "400s" to 828 on Atripla reveals an excellent immunologic response to treatment. The viral load and CD4 counts are generally related: as viral replication decreases to undetectable levels, the immune system can partially restore itself as manifested by increasing CD4 counts.

As for "what's really important," as you can see, the real answer is both!

Dr. Bob



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