It’s been a month since I injected an experimental plasmid therapy to treat HIV. This article will share the results so far, but first, we’ll unpack the measures that were used so that way you can make sense of the data.
There are two tests that are routinely used in the monitoring and treatment of HIV.
The first is the viral load: a measure of how many copies of virus are floating in a mL of blood. This value fluctuates widely in HIV+ individuals, as the expression of the virus waxes and wanes. Some times, however, this value spikes to extreme levels — hundreds of thousands of copies of the virus per mL — and this is usually accompanied by a destruction of the immune system, resulting in AIDS.
Conventional HIV treatment — HAART — aims to get the Viral Load down to an “undetectable” level, which really just means less than 100 copies per mL. This low amount of HIV in the blood has been shown to make a person practically incapable of transmitting the virus, and of course, tends to lead to a healthier immune system, which brings us to our other measure: the CD4 coutn.
HIV is believed to bind, infect, and destroy CD4 cells, which are a part of the immune system. Normal healthy humans score around 650 on this test. When HIV runs unchecked, it can decimate the CD4 population. A patient is diagnosed with AIDS when the CD4 count falls below 0. Since testing positive for HIV, my CD4 count has fallen in the 500’s and 600’s every time I have been tested.
If this therapy worked, we expected for my Viral Load to decrease, and my CD4 count to probably stay pretty even, but maybe eventually increase after a few months of the virus being ‘undetectable’. As I mentioned in the livestream, an ‘undetectable’ viral load would be very clear evidence that the therapy had worked, and scores between ‘undetectable’ and my baseline Viral Load would be suggestive, but not conclusive, of the therapy working as imagined.
Baseline (taken 1 day before injection)
Viral Load:11912; CD4: 654
Viral Load: 28,800; CD4: test not taken
Viral Load: 36401; CD4: 759
You can access the PDFs of the lab results here.
The results were not quite what we had hoped for — the viral load increased rather than decreased. This is likely because of natural fluctuations in the viral load, rather than due to the therapy. My baseline viral load was the lowest I have ever tested while not taking HIV medication.
We used a very small dose of the plasmid for this test, for safety reasons, and so we could figure out the proper dosage.
The CD4 count rising is an interesting finding, but it may be a simple product of the fever I had around week 2. There is the possibility that the plasmid had a role in this increase — I have never had such a high CD4 score since tested — but this data point is far from conclusive.
I will be continuing to get tested, every 2–4 weeks, to monitor the effects. It is possible that the CD4 rise might precipitate the viral load decreasing. If the viral load continues to not dip below 10k, my team will be moving forward with testing the 2nd generation of this plasmid therapy around the end of the year.
Please stay tuned for the ‘discussion’ of these results — my next article — and my future tests by following this account. ❤