Advertisement
The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource Follow Us Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Download Our App
Professionals >> Visit The Body PROThe Body en Espanol
HIV/AIDS Resource Center for the Newly Diagnosed
Enrique Raul Bernadette Fortunata Heidi Greg Jack Ahmad Lucia

HIV Monitoring Test Basics

 4/7 

starting line

The Viral Load Test

Viral load means exactly what it sounds like -- it's an estimate of how much HIV is circulating in your blood. Generally speaking, your viral load is not considered as critical as your CD4 count in determining the health of your immune system. However, once you begin HIV treatment, it is a good measure of how well your HIV medications are working.

A viral load test measures the amount of HIV in a small amount (milliliter, or mL) of your blood. The most sensitive viral load tests currently used in clinics can detect as few as 20 copies of HIV per milliliter of blood. When your viral load test indicates that you have fewer than 20 copies/mL of HIV, your health care provider will tell you that your viral load is "below the limit of detection," or "undetectable."

This does not mean you no longer have HIV in your body. Though it is not technically impossible for someone who has an "undetectable" viral load to transmit HIV, studies show that the risk of this occurring is reduced by as much as 96 percent when a person's viral load is undetectable. Though it may be undetectable in your blood, HIV can hide out in other parts of your body -- called "reservoirs" -- and begin making more copies of itself were you to stop taking HIV meds. An "undetectable" viral load means that your medications are doing an excellent job of keeping HIV in check.

Learn more about viral load tests; or read stories from some of our community members about their first time reaching "undetectable."





Related Stories

More on Monitoring Tests


This article was provided by TheBody.com.
 

Reader Comments:

Comment by: bongane (botshabelo) Tue., Oct. 15, 2013 at 8:07 am EDT
meaning as it is contrast pickup
Reply to this comment


Add Your Comment:
(Please note: Your name and comment will be public, and may even show up in
Internet search results. Be careful when providing personal information! Before
adding your comment, please read TheBody.com's Comment Policy.)

Your Name:


Your Location:

(ex: San Francisco, CA)

Your Comment:

Characters remaining:

Advertisement
elseinclude {