Viral Load Dropping Off Meds

Question

I'm not complaining at all but very curious as to why my labs are improving since going off meds in the beginning of the year. I was having gastro-intestinal problems and went on a 2 week drug holiday to see if my stomach problems would resolve. I've been poz 8 years and on meds for 6... After being off meds for a couple weeks we decided to run labs, (1/31/07) my viral load was 33,200, T-cells 838 @38%, (3/14/07) vl 810, T-cells 823 @ 36%, (5/15/07) vl 93 T-cells 999 @36%. My doctor seemed quite surprised and ordered labs again to confirm. Does this seem possible? I'm thrilled but not sure what's going on here. Any thoughts?

Answer

I agree with your doctor, it is a bit surprising. In other situations where people have stopped meds in a situation like yours (normal range CD4 count and percentage), we usually see that the viral load does not rebound and either stays undetectable after stopping meds, or remains detectable but very low. It seems unusual to see it rebound and then decrease significantly in the absence of treatment. So experts think this might be related to an effect like giving a vacccine. Since your body hasn't been used to seeing a lot of virus for a while and now gets a dose off meds, it's like waking the immune system up to react more effectively and contain the virus on it's own.