High T Cells, High Viral Load--What's Up?

Dear Christine,

Iíve been HIV positive for six years and have not taken any of the meds. I live a healthy life and have always felt my immune system is working well. I rarely get sick and when I do, I recover very quickly. I also have lots of energy.

Hereís the problem: Iíve had the same high T cell count for the past six years, but my viral load has also been high and it keeps getting higher. On my last appointment it went up again to 620,000. My doctor agrees my T cell counts are all normal, but heís been pushing me to start the meds to reduce my viral load. He says that the situation with my T cells is unusual, that my counts wonít keep up with the virus, and that if I donít start the meds soon, Iíll end up in the emergency room with PCP.

Do you agree?

Eric M

Dear Eric,

Most AIDS doctors today still believe that HIV destroys T cells even though official AIDS science has changed its mind about this idea. They also believe that viral load tests provide accurate and reliable information on HIV activity and so regard high or increasing viral load numbers as a concerning threat to health.

If viral load tests actually detected and quantified amounts of active HIV, and if HIV really did destroy T cells, a person could not simultaneously over the course of many years have high and stable T cells and high and increasing viral load. This doesnít even add up according to the HIV = AIDS paradigm.

Your seemingly contradictory situation is not as unusual as your doctor thinks. Many people report having high viral loads and high T cells or low viral loads and low T cells. And even when counts and loads appear to jibe, there is still no clear correlation between numbers and clinical health.

The published medical literature presents several contradictions to the notion that viral loads equate with viral activity. To cite an example, one study found that more than half of HIV positives with detectable viral loads, some in the multiple millions, had zero virus as determined by co-culture, a process that errs in favor of finding ďHIVĒ by adding blood to a culture dish of cancer cells and stimulating the mixture with chemicals that stress cells making what can be loosely characterized as "virus" appear.

Studies also reveal that viral loads can happen in people with negative HIV antibody test results and negative testing people can have T cell counts below what is required for a diagnosis of AIDS in someone who tests HIV positive.

More and more HIV positives are choosing doctors that rely on the same diagnostics used to assess and monitor the health of their HIV negative patients rather than using the special tests and unique rules employed by AIDS specialists. At the same time, more AIDS doctors are willing to allow clinical health and a patientís decisions to overrule treatment guidelines based on T cell and viral load numbers.

Thanks for your writing,


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