What does an HIV viral load chart show?


Quick Answer

An HIV viral load chart shows the number of particles (known as copies) of the HIV virus in 1 milliliter of blood of an HIV-positive individual. Measurement of the viral load provides information about the person's health status and the effect, if any, that HIV medicines are having in controlling the virus, reports the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

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Full Answer

The HIV viral load test can help to guide future therapy, monitor the effects of current therapy and predict the progression of the disease, states WebMD. Physicians perform the viral load test by drawing a blood sample from a vein in the arm. There is no normal range to reference a viral load measurement against because uninfected people do not have any copies of the HIV virus in their blood.

A low viral load count is a good sign because the test measures the number of virus copies present in the blood. Studies have shown that people with low viral loads do better in general, Mayo Clinic reports.

Doctors usually test the viral load at the beginning of treatment and every three to six months while therapy continues. The viral load may need to be measured more frequently if physicians make treatment changes or add new medicines.

A reduction in the viral load is an indication that the therapy against HIV is effective. The ideal goal of any HIV treatment is an undetectable viral load, which greatly reduces the chances of virus transmission from an HIV-positive to an HIV-negative individual. However, an undetectable viral load does not mean the HIV-positive individual is free of the disease, and the virus can still pass to others, warns Mayo Clinic.

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