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Vaginal HIV Is Detectable Even With Undetectable Blood-Based Levels

Vaginal HIV Is Detectable Even With Undetectable Blood-Based Levels

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About 25% of women who have undetectable levels of HIV in their bloodstream still have measurable HIV in their vaginal secretions, according to a study by Italian researchers in the October edition of the journal AIDS. The study of 122 women showed that there often is a direct relation between levels of virus in the blood and levels detected in the vagina, with study subjects who had the highest blood-based levels also the most likely to have detectable HIV in their vaginas. Women with higher CD4-cell counts and those taking antiretroviral drugs were the least likely to have detectable vaginal levels of the virus. However, one quarter of the women with undetectable blood-based viral levels still were shedding virus in their vaginas. This 'indicated that caution is required in judging infectivity of women on the basis of plasma viral load only, in both sexual and mother-to-child situations,' the researchers conclude.

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