what is viral load?


what is viral load?

In: Biology

I think context matters here, but that term is generally used to mean “how much virus is in there?” For example, someone who’s being treated for hepatitis C can have a viral load checked as a way of making sure that they do actually have detectable circulating virus that needs to be further treated (and if the load’s low enough, whether they’d be able to be treated with this medication versus that medication).

A viral load or burden or titer usually refers to the amount of viral particles (viruses) per unit volume in a specific body fluid or sample tested. Usually a high viral load means you have a pretty active viral infection, which usually correlates with severity of symptoms. Sometimes viral load is confused with viral dose, which is the initial number of viral particles you were exposed to when you got infected. That also plays a role in disease progression in terms of rate and severity.

So viral load could be something like: 500 particles per mL plasma (from blood)

Viral dose could be something like: 200, 000 viral particles.