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Are an HIV test and a viral load test the same thing?

An HIV test and a viral load are two separate things. If someone wants to figure out whether or not they are infected with HIV they get an HIV test. If someone wants to know how well-controlled the virus is they get a viral load. The tests that are used nowadays to evaluate HIV, are looking for your body’s response to the virus. They’re looking for those proteins. They’re not actually evaluating generally, a load of virus in the blood.

Dr. Flash discusses the difference between an HIV test (used before you know your HIV status) and a viral load test (to tell you the level of virus in your body).

A viral load test measures the amount of virus in the blood of someone known to have HIV. It determines if HIV treatment is working. This is different from an HIV test, which is used to initially diagnose an individual with HIV.

For more information, click here for HIV testing and click here for HIV treatment.


#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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