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HIV Viral Load: A Concept Analysis and Critique

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In this article, we examine the concept of HIV viral load and how it has evolved over time (1995–2013) in the field of HIV/AIDS. Although the term viral load is used extensively in this field, few efforts have been directed toward the conceptualization of HIV viral load, which is often left unquestioned, undertheorized, and portrayed as a neutral and objective laboratory value that has remained relatively stable over time—with the exception of progressive advancements in technology, techniques, and sensitivity. The purpose of this article is to apply the evolutionary concept analysis method developed by Rodgers (1989, 2000a) to the concept of HIV viral load. To set the stage, we establish the need for a concept analysis of HIV viral load and provide an overview of the evolutionary view. Then, drawing on the steps proposed by Rodgers (2000a), we outline the process of data collection, management, and analysis. We then offer an in-depth discussion of the findings (attributes, antecedents, and consequences) informed by Wuest's (2000) critical approach to concept analysis. We conclude by highlighting the implications of this analysis for clinical practice, research, and theory.
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Keywords: ANTIRETROVIRAL THERAPY; CONCEPT ANALYSIS; CONCEPT CRITIQUE; HIV; VIRAL LOAD

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2014

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