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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 99, Issue 3, pp 189–191 | Cite as

Understanding HIV Viral Load

Implications for Counselling
  • Patrick O’Byrne
  • Paul A. MacPherson
Commentary

Abstract

This paper provides an overview of HIV viral loads in blood and genital fluids and how these relate to HIV transmission during sexual activity. Current knowledge around HIV viral loads and transmission are then discussed in relation to HIV disclosure laws in Canada. HIV counsellors and health care workers should ensure that their clients/patients are aware that blood viral load is not necessarily equivalent to genital tract viral load and that the development of drug resistance within the two compartments may be unrelated. This is an important factor in preventing the spread of HIV as well as for HIV-positive individuals in not unintentionally exposing themselves to potential legal repercussions.

Key words

HIV prevention counseling blood semen viral load 

Résumé

Cet article fait le point sur les charges virales associées au VIH dans le sang et les liquides organiques génitaux et sur les liens entre ces charges et la transmission du VIH lors de rapports sexuels. Les connaissances actuelles en regard des charges virales et du risque de transmission du VIH sont ensuite examinées à la lumière des lois canadiennes sur la notification des partenaires. Les professionnels de la santé, de même que les intervenants exerçant dans le domaine du VIH, doivent s’assurer que leurs clients comprennent bien que la charge virale dans le sang diffère de celle associée aux liquides des organes génitaux, et qu’une résistance aux médicaments antirétroviraux qui peut se manifester dans le sang n’implique pas nécessairement une même résistance dans les liquides génitaux. L’information présentée dans cet article pourrait contribuer à prévenir la transmission du VIH en plus d’éviter que les personnes infectées ne s’exposent à des poursuites faute d’avoir été informées.

Mots clés

VIH prévention counseling sang sperme charge virale 

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Nursing, Faculty of Health SciencesUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.Division of Infectious DiseasesOttawa HospitalCanada
  3. 3.Dept. of Medicine, Dept. of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, University of OttawaOttawa Health Research InstituteCanada

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