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When Should Women Take Viral Load Tests?

Winter 2000

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!

Kathryn Anastos, M.D., proposed distinct timepoints for viral load testing to optimize the information such tests provide:
  • at serodiagnosis, to drive decisions about initial antiretroviral therapy;

  • before changing or starting any new antiretroviral therapy;

  • approximately four weeks after starting or changing antiretroviral therapy (look for at least a one-log or ten-fold decrease or, ideally, an undetectable viral load);

  • 12 weeks after switching or changing a regimen, which Dr. Anastos called "the best time to detect the viral load nadir [the lowest point to which the drug regimen will push the viral load]"; and

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  • every 3-4 months in people on stable therapy or in those not taking any antiretroviral therapy [who, Dr. Anastos added, should be only those with high CD4 cell counts and no detectable viral load].

Dr. Anastos offered a suggestion for people looking to switch therapy because of unacceptable side effects: "Before switching, first achieve a very low viral load to minimize the possibility of viral rebound, because you get a better shot at suppressing the virus with a new regimen if you switch when viral load is low."


Back to the SFAF BETA Winter 2000 contents page.

A note from TheBody.com: Since this article was written, the HIV pandemic has changed, as has our understanding of HIV/AIDS and its treatment. As a result, parts of this article may be outdated. Please keep this in mind, and be sure to visit other parts of our site for more recent information!



  
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This article was provided by San Francisco AIDS Foundation. It is a part of the publication Bulletin of Experimental Treatments for AIDS. Visit San Francisco AIDS Foundation's Web site to find out more about their activities, publications and services.
 
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