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Beyond HIV Viral Load Testing

Brigid Kane
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Copyright ©2004 by the American College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1999;131(8):637-638. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-131-8-199910190-00102
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Given the fast pace of drug development and improvement in our understanding of the biology of HIV and AIDS, it is not surprising that the standard of care for HIV-infected persons is moving to the next level. Routine measurements of plasma HIV RNA levels to provide information on control of viral replication over time were declared an essential part of HIV disease management in 1996 (Nature Med. 1996; 2:625-9), and two widely used sets of treatment guidelines recommend initiating or changing antiretroviral regimens on the basis of a patient's viral load (Ann Intern Med. 1998; 128:1079-99; JAMA. 1998; 280:78-86). Recently, testing for resistance to antiretroviral drugs has also become more common. Such testing may be helpful because clinicians should be better able to prescribe effective antiretroviral agents if they know the resistance profile of patients' viral isolates, especially for patients who do not respond to a particular regimen and those in whom therapy is being initiated.

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