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What Is Your HIV Viral Load?

Viral load is the amount of HIV found in the blood.

If you are living with HIV, the HCP can check the amount of HIV in your blood by doing a viral load test. This test will tell you how much of the HIV virus is in your blood.

A viral load test will tell you:

  • How much HIV is in your body.
  • At some point you may also require a CD4 count test.

A CD4 Test will tell you:

  • How strong your immune system is.

If you are taking your ARVs every day your:

  • Viral load count should go down
  • CD4 count should go up.

What Is Viral Load Suppression?

If you do not take ARVs – the amount of HIV in your body (red dots) keeps growing.

HIV will grow and take over your body without medicine

If you delay starting or stop taking your ARVs – the HIV
in your body will continue to grow and take over your body.

When you get to this stage, your body will struggle to fight off any sickness. Once you get to this stage, you
can become very sick or die from Opportunistic Infections (OI’s) or HIV related illnesses. You will also risk transmitting HIV to your partner or your unborn child.

You can reach viral load suppression

By taking ARVs daily, you can reduce the amount of HIV in your blood so it is so low, it cannot hurt you or be passed on to anyone else.

There is still HIV in your blood (the red dot) as there’s no cure, but if you keep taking your ARVs, you can achieve viral load suppression. You are virally suppressed when your viral load test shows you have less than 50 copies/ml.

Next Step: Reaching U=U.

When your viral load is suppressed, you are undetectable, which also makes you untransmittable. You have reached U=U. Click here to learn more about what this means.