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Volume 2 Published - 14:00 UTC    08:00 EST    08-March-2001      
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Back To Vidyya HIV Viral Load Differs By Gender

Women Have Far Less Virus Than Men

Women newly diagnosed with HIV have far less virus in their blood than men at the same stage, a study found.

The difference disappears later, according to the study at Johns Hopkins University.

The finding is unlikely to affect treatment, because the treatment guidelines were changed between the time the article was written and its publication in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine.

When the article was written, it was thought best to put patients on antiviral drugs when their AIDS virus levels reached 20,000 particles per millileter of blood plasma. Guidelines released in January call for waiting until there are 55,000 particles per millileter.

The risk of developing full-blown AIDS rises with the level of virus in the blood.

The researchers checked the blood of 156 male and 46 female injection drug users every six months. They found that newly diagnosed men had an average of 50,766 copies per millileter, while women averaged 15,103.

The Johns Hopkins researchers also noted that the level of CD4 cells--the white blood cells that are HIV's main target--is a much better predictor of infections and death than viral particles.

The new guidelines call for starting drug treatment when the CD4 count has dropped to 350 cells per cubic millimeter, versus 500 under the previous guidelines.


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Editor: Susan K. Boyer, RN
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