July / August #83 : This Is Only a Test

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Table of Contents

Once Upon A Time...

Young At Heartland

The Lying Game

Life vs. Meth

This Is Only a Test

Mbeki's 180

Spin Doctors

Soda Wars

Iran Runs

New Friend

Sex Crimes

Got Milk? Get Meds

Got His Goat

Monkey C

Mind Trip

Beach Reads

Memory Lane

Face the Music

Failure Is Sweet

Who Done It

Defensive Tackle

Under the Sun

Cave Kava

Relayed Reaction

Habit Helpers

Ticked & Stoned

Rated X5

Vax Populi

TB or Not TB

IV Leader

Flower Children


Drug Interactions

Dubya Trouble

Publisher's Letter


Reed Represents

Most Popular Lessons

The HIV Life Cycle


Herpes Simplex Virus

Syphilis & Neurosyphilis

Treatments for Opportunistic Infections (OIs)

What is AIDS & HIV?

Hepatitis & HIV

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July / August 2002

This Is Only a Test

Resistance tests, the newest tools in the HIV kit, can be helpful in choosing from the cocktail m

Resistance tests, the newest tools in the HIV kit, can be helpful in choosing from the cocktail menu. The tests come in two flavors: genotypic and phenotypic. Neither will tell you which drug is best -- only which drugs probably won't work.

Genotypic tests do a genetic analysis of your virus to figure out what mutations it has developed. They're faster (results in a week or two) and cheaper ($400 to $600). Phenotypic tests pit your virus directly against HIV meds in a test tube. Results are measured on a sliding scale of "sensitivity," where high drug sensitivity generally means the drug will work in your body, and low equals resistance. They're more expensive ($900 to $1,000) and slower (results take two to four weeks).

Each test gives you different information, and each doc has a preference (usually based on which he or she least misunderstands!). Generally your doctor will run a genotype before you begin treatment to check for possible resistance, adding or switching to phenotypic testing for second- or third-round decisions. Many docs use both following your first treatment failure, in order to get the clearest possible picture of what's going on.

Two cautions: Neither works well if your viral load is below 50, and neither will be accurate if you've been drug-free for a while -- maybe even for a few weeks.

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