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What is an HIV viral load test?

A viral load test assesses your human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) treatment response. The test measures the amount of HIV in your blood (plasma HIV RNA) and is quantified as copies per milliliter. The goal is a viral load below 400 copies per milliliter of blood.

Viral load testing is an invaluable treatment guide today in the same way a CD4 count (testing for white blood cells called T-lymphocytes) was in the first decade of the epidemic. It provides timely information for deciding when you should start treatment and when to switch to different drugs if treatment proves ineffective or resistance is developing. The CD4 test is still important for measuring the functioning of the immune system.
Daniel R. Spogen, MD
Family Medicine
An HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) viral load test measures the concentration of HIV particles within the bloodstream, which gives an indication about treatment effectiveness.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.