You can still test positive for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) even if your viral load is undetectable because you may have a suppressed viral load that cannot be detected, but you still have the virus inside your body.
- As a response to the virus, your immune system produces antibodies against HIV.
- Therefore, a positive antibody test for HIV is possible even if the viral load is undetectable.
Since the beginning of the HIV pandemic, antibody tests were performed to screen for the virus. Antibody tests are the least expensive and most widely used HIV testing. Because they deliver immediate, on-the-spot findings, they are the most often used forms of HIV tests at testing facilities across the world.
Modern diagnostics sometimes combine an antibody test with an antigen or protein assay, providing greater sensitivity for early infection.
Does undetectable viral load imply that there is no HIV in the body?
When you are diagnosed with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), you must undergo blood sampling two to four times each year to evaluate the virus levels in your blood. A viral load test determines how much virus is present in the body by counting the number of HIV particles in a blood sample. Results are expressed as the number of HIV copies per milliliter of blood, for example, 200 copies/mL.
HIV therapy (antiretroviral [ARV] drug) reduces the viral load in the blood, and when the viral load is less than 20 copies/mL, then it is said to be an undetected viral load.
- ARV therapy successfully reduces the viral load to undetectable levels. If the drug is not taken as directed, the viral load increases once more.
- The virus continues to replicate itself and damages immune system cells. This process will eventually develop into a full-blown acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), a serious disorder in which the body's immune system is unable to fight common infections caused by viruses and bacteria.
Fortunately, the treatment is now so effective that HIV does not progress to AIDS. That implies that even if you have HIV, you can live your life as per your choice, without fear of the infection. When HIV is identified early and treatment is effective, your life expectancy is almost similar to that of the general population.
Can I pass the virus to my partner through sex if the viral load is undetectable?
Viral load is the measurement of the quantity of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in your bodily fluids. Effective HIV treatment (antiretroviral therapy) reduces the quantity of HIV in your bodily fluids to the point where routine testing cannot identify any HIV or only detect a trace.
Having an undetectable viral load does not imply that you are HIV-free. If you stop taking the medication, your viral load will increase and become detectable once more.
An undetectable viral load indicates that there is insufficient HIV in your bodily fluids to transmit HIV during unprotected sex. In other words, you are not contagious. Undetectable = Untransmissible.
Your chances of transmitting HIV to a sexual partner are nil as long as your viral load remains undetectable. However, there is still a slight risk of transmitting the virus through sharing needles, and mother-to-child transmission are possible.
What are the different stages of viral load?
During the first few weeks after being infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the viral load is often quite high—several million viral copies per milliliter of blood (copies/mL). At this stage, there is a significant danger of HIV transmission. In reality, many people get HIV from someone who is unaware that they recently contracted the infection.
The viral load normally decreases after a period following early infection. In the absence of treatment, a typical viral load may be 50,000 copies/mL. There is still a significant danger of HIV transmission.
The viral load normally drops quickly after starting HIV therapy. Usually, viral loads become undetectable after three to six months following treatment.
U=U Frequently Asked Questions: https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/aids/ending_the_epidemic/faq.htm
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How Do You Know if a Guy Has HIV?Most of the signs and symptoms of an HIV infection are the same for both men and women. However, a few symptoms are specific to men, such as low sex drive, sores on the penis and pain during urination.
How Long Can You Live with HIV?HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. If someone has HIV it means that they have been diagnosed with the HIV infection. AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome); however, is the most advanced or final stage of the HIV infection. In the case of an untreated HIV infection, the overall mortality rate is more than 90%. The average time from infection to death is eight to ten years.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) infection left untreated causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a type of virus called a retrovirus, which can infect humans when it comes in contact with tissues that line the vagina, anal area, mouth, or eyes, or through a break in the skin. HIV infection is generally a slowly progressive disease in which the virus is present throughout the body at all stages of the disease. Three stages of HIV infection have been described. The initial stage of infection (primary infection), which occurs within weeks of acquiring the virus, often is characterized by the flu- or mono-like illness that generally resolves within weeks. The stage of chronic asymptomatic infection (meaning a long duration of infection without symptoms) lasts an average of eight to 10 years without treatment. The stage of symptomatic infection, in which the body's immune (or defense) system has been suppressed and complications have developed, is called the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The symptoms are caused by the complications of AIDS, which include one or more unusual infections or cancers, severe loss of weight, and intellectual deterioration (called dementia). When HIV grows (that is, by reproducing itself), it acquires the ability to change (mutate) its own structure. These mutations enable the virus to become resistant to previously effective drug therapy. The goals of drug therapy are to prevent damage to the immune system by the HIV virus and to halt or delay the progress of the infection to symptomatic disease. Therapy for HIV includes combinations of drugs that decrease the growth of the virus to such an extent that the treatment prevents or markedly delays the development of viral resistance to the drugs. The best combination of drugs for HIV are those that effectively suppress viral replication in the blood and also are well tolerated and simple to take so that people can take the medications consistently without missing doses.
What Are the Four Stages of HIV?The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) into four stages. Stage 1 (HIV infection): The CD4+ cell count is at least 500 cells per microliter. Stage 2 (HIV infection): The CD4+ cell count is 350 to 499. Stage 3 (advanced HIV disease or AHD): The CD4+ cell count is 200 to 349. Stage 4 (Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome [AIDS]): The CD4+ cell count is less than 200.
What Is a Detectable HIV Viral Load? Normal Viral LoadDetectable viral load is defined as having more than 200 copies of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) per milliliter of blood.
What Is the Difference Between HIV-1 and HIV-2?There are two main types of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), HIV-1 and HIV-2. HIV-1 is the most common type of HIV and accounts for 95% of all infections, whereas HIV-2 is relatively uncommon and less infectious. HIV-2 is mainly concentrated in West Africa, is less deadly and progresses more slowly.
When Should I Test for HIV?The CDC recommends everyone between 13 and 64 should get tested for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) at least once in their lifetime. If you've had unprotected sex with a new or multiple partners, pregnant women, intravenous drug users, are being treated for a STD, have tuberculosis, or hepatitis, are also reasons to get screened and tested.