In general, your viral load is the most important factor in determining whether your medications are working. Other important factors are your CD4 (T-cell) count, your recent clinical history, and findings from a physical examination by your doctor. Your viral load should be tested again 2-4 weeks after you start treatment. If your drugs are working, your viral load should be decreasing, and it should continue to decrease as you continue to take your medications.
Throughout HIV treatment, your viral load should be tested every 3-4 months to make sure your drugs are still working. If your viral load is not detectable within 4-6 months after starting treatment, you should talk to your doctor about possibly changing your medications.
How fast or how much your viral load decreases may depend on other factors, not only on the drugs you are taking. These factors can include your baseline viral load and CD4 (T-cell) count (before starting therapy), whether you have used Antiretroviral drugs before, whether you have any AIDS-related illnesses, and how closely you have followed your therapy. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about your viral load not decreasing. CD4 (T-cell) counts also may help show how well your medications are working. After starting drug therapy, your CD4 (T-cell) count should be tested every 3-6 months. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about your CD4 (T-cell) count.