Posted by: SickOne | 2004/11/18

Please explain again!

A close friend of mine told me she was +, and that she went to the Doc and came back with more questions. I told her I will ask you dears:
1.Her CD4 560
2.Viraload undetected ??????
Is this possible? If they can not see the virus how can she be HIV the count is also low (she has not been sick and at the time she took to test she was also fine).
What is the logic???

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Our expert says:
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It is possible for the viralload to be undetectable even if you are not on treatment. It means that your own immunesystem is coping very well with the infection on its own.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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Posted by: Inc | 2004/11/19


you need to keep doing the tests. It is important for you to do that... how will you know the state of your health if you don't... you need to monitor your CD4 count and viral load. Usually after a baby, the mother's CD4 count drops. Do it for your son!

Reply to Inc
Posted by: Nonhlanhla | 2004/11/19

Thank you for the response Inc. I tested positive in 2002 when I was pregnant and the viral load was undetectable hence you can understand why I asked for further explaination. I have not tested since then. I am too scared. I am trying to take good care of myself and I am feeling rather ok. I know I must go for another test to ascertain if I need to go on medication - my son will have no one to take care of him should anything happen to me. That's the most scary thought. My son is -. Thanks everyone for this informative forum - I am learning so much about HIV.

Reply to Nonhlanhla
Posted by: Inc | 2004/11/18

Yes Nonhlanhla... I've just tried to explain it above...
A virus level of less than 50 copies will be undetectable... but you will still have the anti-bodies that have developed ... you will still test positive for HIV if you still have anti-bodies.

Reply to Inc
Posted by: Nonhlanhla | 2004/11/18

Inc, "It is possible to be HIV+ and to have an undetectable viral load." What does this mean? Pls excuse my ignorance.

Reply to Nonhlanhla
Posted by: Inc | 2004/11/18

Her doctor should send her for the Western Blot test as well... as a follow up. They do not test for the HI Virus itself... they test for the anti-bodies that are formed when the virus is present... It is possible to be HIV+ and to have an undetectable viral load.

Reply to Inc
Posted by: Sello | 2004/11/18

PCR viral loads can only detect certain strains of HIV 1 and may not detect HIV 2. Personlaly I think that your friend is likely infected with a strain that falls out of those defined in HIV 1. Maybe HIV 2 or clade O. It would be best for your friend to obtain a second opinion just in case.

Reply to Sello
Posted by: SickOne | 2004/11/18

So this means - it depends on the test used to detect the viraload??
The person in question is not on any treatment and this is the first diagnosis by Elisa.

Do you think she should try another HIV test to be absolutely sure. But is this possible that she may have been misdiagnosed. How do they see the HIVirus if it can not be detected by the tests.
How does one come to this conclusion with out detecting the Virus???

Reply to SickOne
Posted by: Inc | 2004/11/18

Viral Load refers to the amount (the number of copies) of HIV genetic material (RNA) circulating in the blood plasma (the fluid that carried blood cells).

A viral load test indicates the number of copies of HIV RNA per millilitre of blood. Viral load test results can range from less than 50 copies to more than 1 million copies. Some experimental tests used in research can detect as little as 5 copies per millilitre.

Viral load is an indicator of disease progression. It shows how much virus is available to damage the immune system, and it can therefore be used to predict speed with which CD4 cells will be lost. Viral load streadily increases over time if not ART is used. The higher the viral load, the more damage the virus can cause to the immune system, and the more CD4 cells may be lost as a result. The lower someone's viral load, the less likely they are to get sick in the near future.

Imagine HIV is a train heading for JHB. The time the train will arrive depends on both the speed of the train (viral load), and the length of the track left before JHB (CD4 count).

People with higher viral loads are bound to be more infectious, and will therefore have higher levels of the virus in Semen and Vaginal Fluid.

People with undetectable blood levels of virus might also continue to be infectious; however, because viral load in blood, semen and vaginal fluid does not match exactly. It is possible to pass HIV to a sexual partner through exposure to semen and vaginal fluid, despite having an undetectable viral load.

If viral load is undetecable after six months, this is a sign that treatment is successfully controlling the virus activity. However, undetectable viral load DOES NOT mean that virus activity has stopped. It means that the test cannor detect virus levels of less than 50 copies.

Reply to Inc

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