My Viral Load test results sometimes come back as Detected <20, and other times as Not Detected <20. Is there really a difference if it's <20?
Probably not. The viral load assays have improved over time where the lower limit of detection and quantitation has decreased to very low copy number now. Thus, we can quantitate down to 20 copies/mL, and still detect viral load below that, but are not able to quantitate it. Study results are conflicting as to the significance of detection below 20 and what to do about it. What this means clinically to the patient is uncertain at this point, and has caused a lot of distress because people think that their HIV treatment is not working, when in fact it is working just fine.