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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.

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7 Myths About HIV/AIDS

Many myths are still around about HIV and AIDS. Get the real story here -- it can help you enjoy a full, healthy life. Myth 1: Treating HIV will require me to take dozens of pills every day. Fact: Years ago, people with HIV needed to take a lot of pills. Now, most people starting on HIV treatment only take 1 to 4 pills daily. You may be able to take medicines that combine 2 or 3 drugs in a single pill. Myth 2: I can wait to start taking medicine for my HIV. Fact: You probably need...

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 05, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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