Q and A


Are my viral load changes effective when not on ART?

So my viral load has decreased from about 19600 to 15500 without treatment while on self medicated (experimental treatment over two years) and I haven’t had meds since 2017.

Does this mean it’s working?


Hi there

The test for an effective treatment is whether it reduces viral load to undetectable levels (less than 50 copies/mL. This means that your current approach is not working.

This is because as long as viral load is detectable it is stressing and overactiving your immune system. This increases your risk of serious complications like  heart, liver and kidney disease and also of some cancers.

This is why ART is recommended for everyone with detectable viral load. So far, the only treatments proven to reduce viral load are approved HIV meds.

Your two viral load results are technically the same, because ot the variations in the test. So the viral load of 15,000 is not any better than 19,000.

It sounds like you might have been HIV positive for many years and that you did use treatment in the past, but not why you stopped. Without these and other details, including your age and HIV and CD4 history, it is difficult to comment in more detail.

Please talk to your doctor about current treatment as this might be different to the meds you used before. Even if you feel well, the ongoin levels of viral load will be damaging you immune system.

best wishes



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