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Author Topic: Viral load test?  (Read 1285 times)

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Offline wtfimpoz

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  • Posts: 418
  • Let's make biscuits!
Viral load test?
« on: July 10, 2010, 01:24:50 PM »
As I understand it, upon my first doctor's appointment, I'm going to be given a viral load test.  Does this test exclusively examine the levels of HIV in my blood, or does it pick up other viruses as well?
09/01/2009-neg
mid april, 2010, "flu like illness".
06/01/2010-weakly reactive ELISA, indeterminant WB
06/06/2010-reactive ELISA, confirmed positive.

DATE       CD4     %     VL
07/15/10  423     33    88k
08/28/10  489     19    189k
09/06/10-Started ATRIPLA
09/15/10  420     38    1400
11/21/10  517     25    51

Offline Hellraiser

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Re: Viral load test?
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2010, 01:25:24 PM »
As I understand it, upon my first doctor's appointment, I'm going to be given a viral load test.  Does this test exclusively examine the levels of HIV in my blood, or does it pick up other viruses as well?

Only HIV

Offline hotpuppy

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Re: Viral load test?
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2010, 07:31:22 PM »
Typically they will run a handful of blood tests including:
CBC (Complete Blood Count) which will check
- cholesterol
- kidney function
- liver function 
- several other things

HIV Viral Load (to determine how much HIV is in a drop of blood)  - a drop is about 1 ml.
CD4 level and percentage (to assess immune function)

The last 2 play a large role in how you proceed with your HIV.  As a general rule you want viral load as low as possible and CD4 as high as possible.

Normal for CD4 is 1000-ish
Viral load should be somewhere between a few thousand and 50,000.  However - you are newly diagnosed and much higher levels are common among those recently infected.  Numbers as high as 1,000,000 copies/ml are not out of bounds for newly infected individuals.

If the doctor thinks he may recommend treatment it's also not uncommon to do some other tests that can suggest which medicines might be more effective.  These are resistance tests and possibly a tropism test.  Tropism test checks to see if entry inhibitors will work for you.  A resistance test checks to see what meds might not work on your virus.  Less resistance is better.  R4 tropism is ideal and the others can be dealt with....  The others being R4/X5 (dual tropic) and X5 tropic.  It's pronounced Tro-pick.  or tro-pis-m  not trop-ism.

either at your first visit, or shortly after it's also standard protocol to beef up your immunizations... at a minimum you should receive or be brought current on:
Flu (although they may wait for the next one to come out in 4 months)
Pneumovax (helps prevent you from contracting pneumonia which is life threatening for HIV+ folks)
Hep a/b  (remember B is 2 shots a few months apart)
TB
Tetanus

They will also typically do a Chest X-Ray as part of the TB screening and possibly a TB skin test. 

Subsequent "follow up" visits are just CBC/viral load/ CD4 and are much simpler.  The initial visit establishes a "baseline."

It's not uncommon to ask for a copy of your test results and to start keeping your own file of labwork.  You might want to do this incase you change doctors, want to review it, or move and need it for your new doc.  You are entitled to a full copy of your medical records..... but usually you will only want a copy of your labs.  I scan mine and keep them in a folder..
Don't obsess over the wrong things.  Life isn't about your numbers, it isn't about this forum, it isn't about someone's opinion.  It's about getting out there and enjoying it.   I am a person with HIV - not the other way around.

Offline hotpuppy

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Re: Viral load test?
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2010, 07:37:54 PM »
If you have not done so, make sure you get your dental in order.  Oral infections can bog down your immune system and are easy to deal with.

I snore and breath through my mouth at night so plaque and tartar are a running problem for me.  I found that going for a cleaning every 90 days is a great way to reduce the risk of cavities and helps me deal with tartar before it becomes a problem.  Sure, it costs me more.... in my case I pay out of pocket so $80/visit adds up.  But it's less traumatic then fillings or root canals.  :)

Part of the reason dental is important is that the blood vessels that supply your mouth are close to your brain and heart.  So an infection in a tooth can easily get into the bloodstream which can become much more complicated. 

As a caveat, I feel that your Dentist is entitled to know about your HIV.  Blood is always involved when dental work is done...... gums do bleed.

In return, you are entitled to be treated with respect.  My dentist and his assistant treat me just like any patient except that they look for HIV specific dental issues and accomodate my desire to be more proactive.  They wear safety glasses, gloves, and take the appropriate precautions.  I never once have felt like they were uncomfortable.  They do ask more about meds to keep track of what I'm on.  In short, we communicate more and I think that's a good thing.

FYI some dentists have issues about HIV.  So if the dentist isn't comfortable find one that is.  Remember, Dental is medical and so HIPPA applies.  Release of patient medical information carries swift and severe penalties so any reputable dentist who values his or her license and money will not talk about your HIV with anyone.

My dentist is someone I've known for 15 years.  I used to work for his partner in IT.  I sent my Mom, my ex-bf, the ex-bf's parents, countless employees, and many of my friends to him.

I was terrified he would talk to them about me.  He made a point of reminding me the first few times that patient info is confidential and he takes it very seriously.  Hopefully your dental experiences will be similar.
Don't obsess over the wrong things.  Life isn't about your numbers, it isn't about this forum, it isn't about someone's opinion.  It's about getting out there and enjoying it.   I am a person with HIV - not the other way around.

Offline Ann

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Re: Viral load test?
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2010, 10:39:07 PM »
wtf,

Have you not checked out the Lessons section of this website yet? There's a lesson in there entitled The Blood Tests You'll Need.
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"...health will finally be seen not as a blessing to be wished for, but as a human right to be fought for." Kofi Annan

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