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How is the viral load affected in HIV infection?

Q: A friend of mine tested HIV positive about 11 months back. The HIV Viral Load test at SRL Ranbaxy (India) 9 months ago showed a value of 5409. Three months back the test was repeated at the same lab and the HIV Viral Load reading was 743. Is the result good that the count has gone down or is his condition worsening?

A:You do not say anything about how long ago the infection occured and his/her general condition. You have also not mentioned anything about his health status. So for these reasons I can only give a rather general answer. In HIV infection the viral load starts to rise very rapidly soon after infection and often reaches a peak value in a short time of days. The level then falls and remains at the lower level for a long time. The viral load again shows a rise if there is some other infection, a HIV re-infection or periods of other stress. In the final stages when the bodys immune system is not functioning at all, the viral load may again rise. See where you friend lies in the spectrum I have described. If the infected person takes anti-retroviral medication, viral load falls drastically if the treatment is effective.

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