high viral load

Question

i was recently diagnosed hiv positive with a viral load of over 3.5 million. my doctor says that is extremely high but i would like to know if this is a normal result?

Answer

Hello,

"Normal" would be not having HIV and therefore no HIV viral load. Successful treatment of HIV infection can often reduce plasma HIV viral load down to undetectable levels. That means HIV is still there, but below the level of detection of our current tests. Ultrasensitive viral load tests can measure down to 25 to 50 copes. You're presently running over 3,500,000 copies. Yes, indeed, that is very high, but not uncommon in those HIV-infected folks who are not on treatment, particularly if recently infected. I would suggest you see an HIV specialist (if you are not already) for a complete evaluation, including a T-cell count, and discussion of therapeutic options. I would also suggest you spend some time reading about HIV tests used to monitor HIV infection and potential treatment options. A good place to start is on The Body's homepage. Click on the following Quick Links "HIV Monitoring Tests," "HIV Medications" and "Just Diagnosed."

Good luck!

Dr. Bob