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What is Log Plasma RNA?

Feb 14, 1997

I read an article entitled Can HIV Be Cured, and in it there was a graphic of the Idealized Effect of Antiretroviral Therapy on Plasma HIV levels Over 1 year. On the graphic there is a line stating the Log Plasma RNA, and because I am doing a research paper on this topic, I was wondering what Log Plasma RNA is.

Response from Dr. Cohen

The plasma RNA is commonly referred to as "viral load," a measure of the amount of HIV virus in the plasma. It can be expressed in absolute numbers (of copies per ml) or in logs. I don't want to get into a high school math lesson, here, but to be brief, a one log change in viral load is a 10-fold change; a two log change is a 100-fold change; a three log change is a 1000-fold change, etc. Thus, a drop in viral load from 300,000 copies/ML to 300 copies/mL is a three log drop.

If you have a viral load value expressed in logs, you just take your calculator, enter the number, and (in most cases) press INV and then LOG. Conversely, if you want to change an absolute number into a log, you enter the number and press LOG.

Does increased viral load mean treatment failure?
viral loads results in logs

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