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Can a viral load of 500,000 become undetectable
Oct 5, 2003

Hi, I have had HIV for 12 years. I have taken a long vacation approx one year from my meds. I am now at t cells/ 12 and viral load, 500,000. I am a female age 37 i am 5"2 and weigh 113 lbs. I have recently been hospitalised for pcp and am thankfully feeling better.....almost completely back to normal. My question is, is there a chance that I could once i start my treatments again that i could convert back to being undetectable and increase my viral load? If so can you give me a time frame that it may take to get my counts higher and lower. i would appreciate any advice or information on the subject that you can . Thanks for your time ! By the way I am drug and alcohol free if that information is helpfull.

Response from Dr. Aberg

Congratulations on your success of being drug and alcohol free. That is a wonderful accomplishment.

And YES, absolutely, many people achieve undetectable HIV viral load after having more than 500,000 copies/ml of HIV in their blood. You have taken the first step of wanting to start therapy and get your HIV under control. I advise you to go to your health provider and discuss the various options you may have. I do not know what HIV medicines you have taken in the past. Your provider will have to sort out whether or not you have underlying resistant virus and base a regimen on that information and any other current medical issues.

The time and amount of increase in CD4 varies within individuals depending on multiple factors. Some times, individuals with low CD4 cells have underlying bone marrow suppression and it takes months for the CD4 count to increase. One would expect to see your viral load go down by about 10 fold in 8 weeks and hopefully become undetectable somewhere between 12-24 weeks.

I wish you well and continued improvement.

Pregnancy & HIV
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