Q and A

Question

Is a viral load of 70 a blip and do I need to be worried?

Answer

Is a viral load of 70 a blip and do I need to be worried?

A ‘blip’ is a viral load result that is just over 50 copies/mL. Viral load should have been undetectable on previous tests and be undetectable again on the next test. Low-level blips are between 50 – 200 and these are most common. Occasionally they can be higher, perhaps as high as 2000.

Half the time a low-level blip can be a lab error. Retesting exactly the came sample can produce an undetectable result. They can also come from missed adherence before the blood was taken. They can be related to another unrelated infection, or may be a random burst of HIV activity.

Luckily, for most people an occasional blip will have no impact on your health. A study presented in February found that people with occasional low-level blips had the same long-term health as people who never blipped. However, people with more frequent and higher blips were related to worse long term health. [1]

If you get a blip, get blood taken again on the same day you get the result. Then ask for the new results within two weeks.

This is to check it is a blip and not a real viral load rebound. If your viral load is really rebounding, you do not want to wait three months for the result. This is to reduce the risk or further resistance.

If viral load is persistently above 50 and adherence is perfect, then you could check blood levels of any PIs or NNRTIs in the combination, and check for any potential drug interactions.

Similarly, if blips are frequent, then modifying or changing your combination is recommended. How and when this is done will depend on your own treatment history and the drug that you still have available.

[1] Mark Hull and colleagues, 17th CROI conference, February 2010, Poster 504.

2 comments

  1. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Jama,

    An undetectable viral load is anything under 50 copies/ml.

  2. Jama

    If Your viral load is 120 copies/ml is this undectable or dectable

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