Does an Undetectable HIV Viral Load Number Mean I’m Cured?
HIV viral load can be suppressed enough that it can no longer be transmitted. 30 years ago, that seemed impossible. The advancements in medicine have made it a reality.
What Do HIV Tests Look For?
The HIV tests look for antibodies, antigens, and RNA. They are collected mainly through blood, but samples of urine or saliva can also reveal levels. If the levels are elevated, a secondary test is performed for confirmation.
How Is HIV Treated?
Once detected your doctor prescribes antiretroviral medications that can not only relieve symptoms but reduce the viral load to the level of undetectable. Your doctor will confirm HIV undetectable meaning the levels are so low that they do not appear on a routine blood test. The medication has suppressed the virus.
It is good news to hear but does not mean that you are cured. Do not toss your medications into the trash. This medication helps to suppress the viral load to this level. It is also the medication that will keep it there.
For the safety of yourself, and the ones you love you must continue your medication. Regular blood tests are imperative to make sure that you keep the undetectable HIV viral load number in a suppressed state. The good news is that undetectable HIV viral load transmissibility is no longer possible.
Can Antiretroviral Medications Fail?
It is just as important to continue getting the HIV viral load test as it was prior to diagnosis. Antiretroviral medications can fail. A recurrent test will give your doctor the chance to adjust your medication to prevent the HIV viral load from increasing further.
Some causes of failure of antiretroviral medications are:
- Failure to adhere strictly to the medication regimen. You may forget to take it one day. If prescribed a specific number of hours between doses you must keep the schedule rigidly. Medications are processed in the body differently. If you wait too long until the next dose the continuous stream of treatment is broken. The virus has a window to replicate.
- Drug resistance can occur. Some pathogens can change the enzyme that the medication targets. Even after years of treatment, a mutation can occur increasing the ability of the virus to survive.
- Absorption of medication is inadequate. Our stomach and intestines absorb nutrients, as well as medications. Any changes in the way the stomach empties into the duodenum can affect the absorption of medication decreasing its potency.
- There is a problem with a drug to drug interaction. Not referring to illicit drugs, many over the counter or prescribed medications can affect the absorbency. Household products have also rarely created complications like detergents, soaps, and shampoos.
Reducing the Risks of Viral Replication
Continuing to have an HIV viral load test reduces the risk of viral replication. You have stuck to a strict regimen. You are confirmed to be HIV undetectable meaning your numbers are so low that they cannot be traced on a routine test. You are told that your undetectable HIV viral load transmissibility is impossible. Be proud of yourself for working hard to get to this point.
Also, be aware that an undetectable HIV viral load number does not mean cured. The virus is suppressed and can replicate if given the chance. It is important to continue periodic testing to continue living a long and fulfilling life.