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Viral Load Test
Mar 20, 2013

I was diagnosed with HIV in October of 2011. I started taking medication November 2012 when my viral load count was 16,000. During an experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit, my pastor prayed for my blood to be healed of HIV. In February of this year, which was my next scheduled appointment, my Infectious Disease Doctor told me that my viral load count is undetectable which means that my viral load number is fewer than 20. I beleive Jesus for healing but am not going to stop taking my medication until I "know-that-I-know" that Jesus has told me that I don't need medication anymore. God wants us to use our heads. So I am trying to find a test that can detect an undetecable viral load count less than 20. Is there a test I can take to see what my viral load number is, even if it is below 20? If they can see that my viral load is more than 20 but can't see if it is less then 20 does that mean they are doing an ultra sensitive complete blood count?

Response from Dr. Young

Hello and thanks for posting.

Perhaps a little detail on what HIV viral load test report may be helpful here.

The viral load test has a limit of quantification- that level where the test can discriminate at a numerical level. In most current tests, this is either 20 or 50 copies/mL of plasma. For example, this means that the test can reliably distinguish between 20 and 25 copies. The test also gives a readout of "detectable" or "undetectable", independent of the numerical value. So most people who have viral loads <20 will have an undetectable level (with sensitivity down to ~1-2 copies/ml), a few will have a result that says <20 copies, but "detectable" (but not quantifiable).

Perhaps what your looking for is a test that can quantitate a "detectable" viral load less than 20; but if your test result says "undetectable", you already have your answer. In the research lab, test can quantitate viral loads below 20, but these are not commercially available.

For more information about HIV tests, has some useful material.

Hope that helps, BY

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