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Which type of Viral Load Test to Take
Jul 1, 2004

I started HAART about a year ago while in the acute stage. My viral load has been undectable since then. My doctor has advised me that I do not need to be getting the ultra viral load test every 3 months and recommends using the 1st generation test (less accurate) only every 6 months and alternate between the two tests. Prior to starting HAART there was no genotype of phenotype testing done so I don't know if I have a drug resistant HIV strain. I have been adhering to my medications (Combivir & Sustiva religiously).

Do you think it is better to be getting the ultra test every 3 months? (I have good insurance so cost is not really an issue to me.)

Response from Dr. Pierone

I prefer the ultrasensitive test because if low level blips (in the 75 to 400 range) occur, then you know about them. What to do about them is another matter. We have been able to negotiate a low price for ultrasensitive so it has not been an issue for our patients. I would recommend that you get the viral load done every 3 months since you will be getting blood counts, kidney tests, and liver tests anyway. This will also give you an earlier heads up if things don't go according to plan. It would have been nice to have the information on the original genotype, but it is not that big a deal (especially since you are doing well). By the way, have you talked about duration of therapy with your doctor, or just keeping options open?



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