Nov 10, 2005
I was diagnosed with HIV in Sept. 1993. I began taking Combivir & Sustiva in October of 2002. My viral load went from 45000 to undetectable in a short period and I have maintained that undetectable status for the last two plus years of treatment. However, I began to lose muscle mass in my buttocks, arms and legs. My fiancée, who is HIV negative and does most of the research, suggested that I switch medication. Therefore, after consulting this website, my physician, and doing some research on my own I switched to Truvada with Sustiva in July of 2005. After the first 30 days or so, the viral load was at 50 copies. Forty-five days later, it had gone up to 75 copies. My question is should I be concerned about the increase in this short window of time? Is it normal for the viral load to increase during the transition? How long should I monitor the viral load before I consider doing something different?
Response from Dr. Conway
We need to understand that an "undetectable" viral load simply means that the amount of virus in the blood is lower than the test can accurately measure, usually about 50 copies or less. Thus, values of 50-75 copies may not be different from undetectable. I would not worry too much at this point, as long as you feel well and your CD4 count is stable. Just make sure you are taking your medications regularly and, out of caution, get a viral load test done every month for the next 2 months or so, to make sure everything is fine.
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