Viral Load

The doctors can even figure out the severity of a viral disease, by counting the influence of the virus in a sample of body fluid. Viral load tests are conducted to figure out the severity and intensity of a viral infection in a part of the body, or the whole body. It successfully tests the viral impact of diseases like cytomegalovirus, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. It is always done during any chronic viral infections, and transplant of any solid body organs or the bone marrow. Undergoing a viral load test reduces the risk of transmission of these viruses from one body to the other.

Modern technology has enabled viral load test to be easily executed for HIV patients too, yielding an effective outcome. It counts the number of HIV RNA copies in per milliliter of blood plasma. The PCR tests may show the number of HIV RNA copies in per 0.05 ml of the blood. In order to get the correct and the standard result from the PCR test, it should be multiplied by 20. (Every viral load test has a different measuring technique. It has to be standardized).

At an earlier stage of HIV infection, the viral load can vary from 5,000 to 10, 000 copies per milliliter of blood plasma. However, it can even rise to more than one million if the matter gets out of control.

Viral Load Tests:

These tests are approved by the Food and drug administration in the USA:

A good anti-retroviral therapy can reduce the viral load up to 100 folds, within one and a half months. The viral load can even go undetectable if these drugs are more effective.

The popular types of viral load tests:

  1. Versant/Quantiplex HIV-1 RNA, or bDNA
  2. NucliSens HIV-1 QT, or NASBA
  3. COBAS AmpliPrep/COBAS TaqMan HIV-1 Test
  4. ExaVir load (It can detect all types and subtypes of the virus. It measures the reverse transcriptase activities of the virus. It is easier and friendlier than the other types of tests)
  5. ELISA test can count the viral load in children.

HIV is most contagious during its earlier stage, when the HIV antibodies are not developed enough. Therefore, viral loads should be tested at the earlier stages, for the best outcome. Keeping the viral load low, right from its initial stage, can save the patient from the ill consequences of HIV and AIDS, providing him with a longer life. Any person, who becomes susceptible of a risky HIV contraction, should go for a viral load within one or two weeks and frequently continue to do the same till the viral load test gives an accurate result. However, this not only holds true for only HIV but also other viral infections. The earlier, the better!

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