What is "viral load"?

What is an HIV viral load report?

What can I do to decrease my viral load?

What does the viral load tell me?
What is the difference between CD4 count and viral load?
Why does HIV affect CD4 cells?
How do I know when I am ready to take meds?

What does the viral load tell me?

High viral load = You have a lot of HIV virus reproducing in your body. If you are on antiretroviral drugs, it tells you that the meds are not working well and that you should consider switching them.

Low viral load = You are on meds and your HIV virus is “undectectable.” Or, you have a low viral load that is determined by the HIV Treatment Guidelines and you do not have to start meds right away.

If you are not currently on HIV meds, then you probably don’t need to go on them immediately if your viral load is low. If you are on HIV meds, ideally your antiretroviral combination should keep your viral load at “undetectable” – if your viral load if consistently ‘low’ but not undetectable, than that is acceptable, as long as the CD4 count is good.

Hospital for Sick Children University of Toronto Positive Youth Outreach CATIE