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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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HIV as You Get Older

Many people think of HIV as a young person's disease, but it's not. "By 2015, half of all people with HIV will be 50 or older," says Brad Hare, MD, director of the HIV/AIDS clinic at San Francisco General Hospital. This greying of the HIV population shows how well today’s HIV treatments can work. HIV makes aging itself more complicated. But plenty of people have had HIV for years, even decades, and are doing well.  "These days, we fully expect that someone with HIV will live a long, healthy life,"...

Read the HIV as You Get Older article > >

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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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