Viral load is a measurement of how much
HIV is present in your blood. A sample of blood is
drawn and sent to a lab for testing. Results are expressed as the number of
copies of the virus per milliliter of blood. Each virus is called a "copy"
because HIV reproduces by making copies of itself (replicating).
The viral load test gives a more accurate picture than a CD4+ cell count of what the virus
is doing in your body at the moment. (The CD4+ test
measures the effect HIV is having on your immune system.) The viral load test
is used to help decide when to start treatment with medicines (antiretroviral
therapy) and when to change antiretroviral medicines.
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