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Being Alive
MEDICAL UPDATE: Interpreting Viral Load Test Results
presented by Mark Katz MD and reported by Jim Stoecker
April 5, 1995
Being Alive 1995 Apr 5: 3

In the years to come, the viral load tests (bDNA and PCR) will become mainstays of HIV treatment. These tests will help us to determine when an individual should start or change antivirals. The tests show their results in terms of the number of copies of HIV detected in a given amount of blood. We are beginning to understand what, in general, these test results mean.

If the number of viral copies is less than 10,000, there is probably nothing that needs to be done. With a result of between 10,000 to 20,000, an individual should review his/her options. If ther are 20,000 to 100,000 copies, it is time to do something (get on an antiviral, begin OI prophylaxis). And if over 100,000 copies are detected, aggressive treatment should be pursued.

So now we have another set of numbers to work with and deal with. And our understanding of viral load results will be refined as we learn more. Most studies are now using the PCR or bDNA testing as part of their protocol, and the data coming out of these studies will contribute to our overall understanding of viral load testing.