An HIV viral load test is used to measure the genes and chemical compounds found in HIV in a milliliter of blood. These particles are otherwise called as copies. This test helps in assessing the progression of HIV in the body. This test should be done within 2 to 8 weeks after diagnosed with HIV, this test can find the infection in blood within days. HIV viral load test is also helpful in showing how well your HIV treatment is working. This test may indicate a recent HIV transmission or uncontrolled or untreated HIV. Since HIV has no cure it’s important to detect the virus as soon as possible so that the treatment can be started. This test also predicts how well the progression of your infection.
What is HIV?
HIV is the abbreviated form of human immunodeficiency virus. As the name indicates it is a viral infection which leads to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). If the individual is infected with HIV, the virus gets replicated by making many copies of itself. The main targeted cells for HIV infection is CD-4. CD-4 cells are a type of white blood cells and help in fighting infections. The virus replicates and spreads all over the body, mostly it gets spread into lymph nodes and spleen. In most cases, the HIV infection remains asymptomatic in early stages of the infection. During this asymptomatic stage, the virus replicates and increases in the number and starts destroying CD-4 cells. For about 3-8 weeks the immune system produces antibodies to fight against HIV and the HIV viral load decreases and the symptoms cannot be seen but the infection remains.
why this test is performed?
This test may be recommended to you if you had unprotected sex or shared needles and wanted to know if you contracted HIV. If you are already diagnosed by HIV, to check the progression of the infection this test may be recommended and if you are on the HIV therapy to evaluate the treatment. This test is also recommended during pregnancy to find out whether you have HIV. This test may also be recommended if you experience symptoms like fever, headache, sore throat, dry cough and tiredness for a long time, swollen lymph nodes, muscle aches, joint pains, skin rashes, itching, red breakouts, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, sweating at night, etc.
This test results may be altered if you have had a vaccine like a flu shot or present with an active infection. This test is not recommended for at least 4 weeks after vaccination or infection.
This test should be done every 3-4 months during long term therapy. If your treatment is effective and your condition is progressive then it is done every 4-6 months.
Inform your doctor if you are on any medications, have any allergies or underlying medical conditions before your HIV Viral Load PCR. Your doctor will give specific instructions depending on your condition on how to prepare for HIV Viral Load PCR.
No specific preparation is required for HIV viral load test.
The test results may vary depending on the gender, age, health history, your condition, etc.
If your test results are higher in number it means you have a high viral load which indicates progression of HIV infection, if you are already on treatment then it means the treatment is not working efficiently or you may develop immunity problems related to AIDS.
If your test results show undetectable, it means there are very fewer copies of the virus in the blood than the test can measure. This doesn’t mean the infection is cured, the virus is still in the body but in small traces.
If your test results are lower in number it means you have a low viral load which may indicate the virus is not highly active or replicating rapidly, or the treatment is working efficiently if you are on HIV therapy.
If you get abnormal test results, consult your doctor immediately. Your doctor may recommend other tests depending on your results.
|UNISEX||All age groups||reported as number of copies/ml of blood, lowest number detectable is 40-75 copies/ml|