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Can viral load change?

HIV is this kind of sneaky virus and it hides out in your body, and if you stop taking your medications, those viral particles that are hiding out start to reproduce themselves, and make more, and then your viral load goes up. So if you’re on a regimen, and you’re kind of taking it on again, off again, and you weren’t as adherent as you really want to be, to have things well-controlled, over time it can stop working for you. Someone can say well, I’ve been on my medication for years, I’m sure I’m undetectable but I haven’t been to the doctor in years to really check. I want to know that you’ve actually been evaluated and we know that that’s an undetectable level and those medications that you’re on are actually working well for you.

Dr. Flash discusses how viral load can change and why it’s important to keep taking your HIV meds.

Missing doses of antiretrovirals (ARVs) – the medications used to treat HIV – can cause the virus to rise to detectable levels. This may result in the virus becoming resistant to a particular HIV treatment, possibly making that treatment not work as well, including reducing the preventative benefits.

If a particular treatment stops working well for an individual with HIV, a medical provider can figure out an alternate treatment plan of the many other ARVs available today.

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#AskTheHIVDoc is a video series from Greater Than HIV featuring top HIV doctors providing answers to commonly-asked questions about HIV prevention, testing and treatment.

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