Yes, I'm gay. I probably was since the day I was born. On my 21st birthday, I sort of had my debut. I came out to my parents. A little drama from mom, and some indifference from dad. An above-average coming out. Almost perfect.

Nine years later, two weeks before my 30th birthday, I found out... I'M HIV POSITIVE.

And so my story begins... I'm BACK IN THE CLOSET.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Positivism - Voices

Don't know much about HIV and AIDS?

Get answers to questions about topics ranging from HIV 101, Transmission & Prevention, The Local Scene, Getting Tested, When Diagnosed, Medication, and Staying Healthy.

A must read, not only for those living with HIV, but for everyone affected by it. And in our world today where HIV is already a reality, that means everyone.



Anonymous said...

What does viral load mean?

PinoyPoz said...

Viral Load is a measure of how much of a virus there is in one's blood, usually in units per unit volume of blood. So the lower it is, the better. And the best result would be for it to be Undetectable, meaning that, although the virus is still there, it is below the minimum detectable limits of the test.

In this case, it's an HIV Viral Load, for the HIV virus. I've noticed that the term Viral Load is also used in cases other viruses, such as Hepatitis.

Anonymous said...

So a viral load of anywhere from 1-900k means the presence of HI virus. Does that mean an HIV- person when tested against PCR will have zero or undetectable result?

How come the inventor of PCR doesn't agree to it's use to detect the presence of HI virus.

PinoyPoz said...

Precisely because, for this Viral Load test, there is a lower limit of virus concentrations in the blood, below which the test is no longer sensitive enough to detect the virus, thus a possible result of UNDETECTABLE.

Thus, if you think about it, an UNDETECTABLE result can mean either the absence of the virus, or possibly the presence of the virus in levels below the detectable limits or the sensitivity of the test.

Anonymous said...

Which makes me ask again the same question, does this mean that an HIV negative person will not register any virus concentrations (zero or undetectable)?

Have you asked your doctore what the result will be if that is the case? HIV negative person undergoing a PCR viral load test? You'll be surprised by his answer. If he says it should be zero/undetectable, ask him if he'd done one such test.

I understand PCR doesn't detect the actual concentration of HI virus but rather magnifies particles (HIV or not) for the lab technicians to "count". Lab technicians also do not know what to count since they don't know what an HI virus looks like, they're just assuming it is the HIVirus. Precisely why the inventor of the technology, Dr Kary Mullis, objects to the use of PCR to detect viral loads.

It is aslo proven that HIV- people do register different "viral load counts", sometimes even more than what a positive will get.

Just a friendly discussion mate.

PinoyPoz said...

Precisely, HIV Viral Loads are not meant to be measured in people who are not HIV positive.

That's what HIV screening and confirmatory tests, such as ELISA and Western Blot Tests, are for. To establish the presence or absence of the HIV virus by detecting HIV antibodies.

Only when HIV screenings and confirmatory tests done detect the presence of HIV antibodies, which in turn means the presence of the HIV virus making the person HIV positive, are HIV Viral Loads measured.

Anonymous said...

Are you really sure about what you said? Don't you find it absurd that a test is used only for HIV+ people but are not supposed to be used for HIV- ones?

What I'm trying to point out is that most of these tests are doubtful at best. Even in other countries here in Europe, people are wondering. You see mate, if PCR is SUPPOSED to detect the population of virus by counting viral loads for HIV+ people then it goes without saying that when PCR is tested against HIV- people the viral load SHOULD BE zero or undetectable. Having a different result only shows either of the two; (1) that the HIV- person tested is actually HIV+ or (2) the person is HIV- and therefore PCR doesn't detect the actual virus.

Mate, are you aware that in Canada CD4 count is not relevant in determining whether someone already has AIDS? In the US, if someone is HIV+ and has a CD4 count of <200, he is categorized as PWA but not in Canada.

PinoyPoz said...

Yes I'm sure. And I do NOT find it absurd that HIV Viral Loads are not measured in people who have not been established to hav HIV through HIV screening.

You see I live in a third world country, where grants from other countries fund HIV Viral Load tests of those living with HIV, which are quite expensive. So I would NOT expect my doctor to be wasting these funds testing Viral Loads of people who have not tested positive for HIV.

It's like giving a haircut to someone who does not have hair to begin with.

There's no reason for me to doubt the validity of tests performed on me. I have a doctor to take care of me, and a standard protocol to follow. I think your concerns should be raised with the European, Canadian and American government, doctors and scientists who you're pointing out. As for me, I'm doing as much as I need to stay healthy, happy and alive. And that's more important to me right now than the scientific politics that are bothering you. I hope you understand.

Anonymous said...

I do understand you but the issue with PCR has nothing to do with your location. If you kindly ask your doctor what a PCR test result will look like if he performs it to himself or to another HIV- person, you might understand it better. What I'm trying to say is that if PCR is deemed to detect HIVirus in HIV+ then conversely it shouldn't detect any viral loads for HIV- people. Seems logical, right mate?

I'm not asking you to change your views about HIV/AIDS but at least do some research before you start posting information about the things you are posting. I know it's your blog but people also pick up some information here as I believe your blog had been featured in POZ.

Scientific politics? Actually it is not. It's more about being informed and being critical of the things being brought upon you. You don't just accept something because a seemingly knowledgeable person told you such as a doctor much more an HIV doctor for all you know they only obtained their knowledge from the "standard medical lines" and didn't do much research about it.

Again, it might not help you at all since you're convinced about these things but you might want to do more research and be a skeptic for both sides.

Btw, PCR when done on HIV- people will also give you anywhere from hundreds to hundreds of thousands of "viral load count" and there are numerous studies to prove this. This is my point. If PCR detects viral load counts for HIV- people then what is it detecting in HIV+ people? Also, while you're at it try to know why ELISA and WB are not accurate determinants of the presence of HIVirus. Check out what specificiy and sensitivity means for these tests and how they determined the values of such. You'll be surprised. You can also start asking -- even to your doctor who cares for you -- what constitutes a positive WB test like how many bands should be reactive and what bands should be reactive. Do note that what constitutes a positive Western Blot test depend on which country you got tested, from as fewer as 2 bands reactive to as many as 4 bands. Do try to find out these things. If it confirms your convictions then the better for you, if not I suggest you ask more questions and be critical about it.

I really wish you well and I hope that you'll stay healthy forever. Goodnite mate.

Anonymous said...

The haircut analogy doesn't quite cut it my friend. You give haircuts to people with hair and not to people who doesn't have one. Even if you try to cut the "hair" of a hairless person, no strand of hair will be cut.

In HIV it is a lot different. PCR tests produce viral load counts regardless of whether you are HIV+ or -. So I'm sorry to inform you that the analogy is untrue from the get go.

Think about it.

PinoyPoz said...

You know what, you seem to know so much more than anyone in this country does about HIV, and have far more different concerns as mine, such as fear, ignorance, stigma and discrimination about HIV.

So I'll let my doctor do her "standard medical lines" job. It would be ironic for me to be entrusting my life to her and be a skeptic to her beliefs.

I'll leave the skepticism to you. Maybe you can do a blog too about your beliefs and thoughts and studies. While you're at it, note also that there are people out there who question the existence of HIV to begin with. That might be something you might want to take under your wing as well, and maybe someday you can rewrite our so-called standard medical lines. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

".....such as fear, ignorance, stigma and discrimination about HIV....."

Exactly why people should ask and seek out the truth and not stop asking critical questions. The more that people, including those labelled HIV+, accept things without asking thought provoking questions the more that people become ignorant, susceptible to hearsays and unfounded half-truths, which results to social stigma, fear and discrimination.

Don't stop asking questions. As the old saying goes, "the truth will set you free" and only by asking questions and by having critical minds will people get to the truth of things.

I know you're having a rough ride and I admire the courage at which you handle your situation. I wish you well, mate. Goodluck.

PinoyPoz said...

Thanks anyways. Goodluck to you.