Marc and I were lucky enough (and luck certainly plays a role, no matter how careful you are!) to make it through our dating years without contracting HIV, but we have a number of friends who are living with the virus. With them in mind--and anyone else reading this who might be helped by the information--I thought this was worth sharing.
In the current issue of Johns Hopkins Magazine, there is an item that reads as follows:
Sudden, temporary spikes in the viral load of HIV-positive patients do not mean their viruses have mutated into drug-resistant strains. Hopkins researchers, led by professor of medicine Robert Siliciano, found that the so-called "blips" in viral load are actually mathematical variations that arise from the test that measures the virus in a patient's body. Unless the blips exceed 200 copies per milliliter of blood or persist upon repeated testing, patients do not need to make difficult changes in their anti-retroviral drug therapy. The study appeared in February's Journal of the American Medical Association.
I share this information with two thoughts in mind:
1) If you're living with HIV, this seems to give reason not to get too upset if you are told of one of these "blips" that shows an unexpected increase in your viral load. It may turn out to be of no consequence.
2) It could be important to know about this, so your doctor doesn't suddenly take a radical new approach before being sure it's absolutely necessary. Knowing doctors as well as I do (having worked in hospitals for years), and also having a habit of questioning my own doctor before letting him do anything I'm not 100% comfortable with, I know that they make mistakes. They make lots of mistakes. Also, your particular doctor may not have seen this study. So he/she may jump to an unwarranted conclusion.
So take this information for what it's worth. I hope it proves useful.