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viral load
Jul 4, 2004

I'm a 28 yr old hiv+ female diagnosed last Sept. I'm perfectly healthy, relatively speaking, i feel totally healthy. My t-cell count is 360 and 3 mths ago my viral load was about 50,000. I just had my bloodwork done last week and now my viral load is up to over 200,000. I really don't want to start taking meds, but i may have to. I don't understand why my viral load has increased but my t-cell count has stayed the same. Is it that my immune system is so good and the virus can't attack the t-cells? Could u please give me some incite.

Response from Dr. Lee

T-cell loss lags behind viral load increases. Over time you will invariably lose more t-cells. If your viral load remains over 200,000 you will lose t-cells more rapidly than if your viral load is down at 50,000 or less.

These are two related but distinct measurements. Dr. John Coffin of Columbia has described the t-cell count as a measure of distance. (As in how far you have to go before the t-cells are exhausted.) He likened the viral load to the speed. (As in how fast the t-cells are being distroyed.)

You and your doc will need to decide about the timing of treatment. There is accumulating evidence that starting treatment before the immune system is irreparably damaged is safer than waiting too long. (At a point, the immune system may not recover as well.)

Be well.


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