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HIV & AIDS Health Center

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HIV Viral Load - Topic Overview

Viral load is a measurement of how much HIV is present in your blood. A sample of blood is drawn and sent to a lab for testing. Results are expressed as the number of copies of the virus per milliliter of blood. Each virus is called a "copy" because HIV reproduces by making copies of itself (replicating).

The viral load test gives a more accurate picture than a CD4+ cell count of what the virus is doing in your body at the moment. (The CD4+ test measures the effect HIV is having on your immune system.) The viral load test is used to help decide when to start treatment with medicines (antiretroviral therapy) and when to change antiretroviral medicines.

Recommended Related to HIV/AIDS

AIDS, HIV, and Pneumocystis Pneumonia (PCP)

Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) is a serious infection that causes inflammation and fluid buildup in the lungs. It is caused by a fungus called Pneumocystis jiroveci. Likely spread through the air, this fungus is very common. Most people are exposed to it by age 3 or 4. A healthy immune system can easily control it. But it causes a type of pneumonia in people with weakened immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS. This is why it's called an opportunistic infection. Although it's rare, PCP can affect...

Read the AIDS, HIV, and Pneumocystis Pneumonia (PCP) article > >

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: /2, 14 1
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