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AIDS to HIV - CD4 Count
Dec 21, 2009

I just found out my brother was diagnosed with AIDS last year. He was admitted to the hospital with a CD4 count of 2. He's now substantially about 200, I think in the 1,000's. He works out every day, eats well, in general, very healthy. I read your other answers to this questions stating that you can't go from AIDS to HIV, he's always going to be diagnosed with AIDS. But does his treatment and other factors different than someone that hasn't had AIDS before? Is he more susecptible to infections or illenesses than someone that is only HIV? Or is the AIDS diagnoses just that... just a title still for him? He's 25 and I'm so worried for him now. I keep reading that people that have HIV can live somewhat normal, long lives... but can that be the same for him since he was diagnosed with AIDS?

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hi,

The term "AIDS" is indeed just a title (artificial classification) and in many ways really not all that useful anymore. "AIDS" was coined in 1982 prior to the discovery of the causative agent: HIV! There was no way back then to determine if someone had the disease until they got really, really sick with an opportunistic infection. The term AIDS was created to allow the epidemiologists to count cases and track the epidemic. Much has changed since then. We now have excellent diagnostic tests to determine who has contracted HIV. If someone is HIV positive, he has HIV disease. AIDS now refers to a more advanced stage of the disease. However, treatment with effective combination antiretroviral therapy can significantly restore the health of folks with AIDS (immune reconstitution), as is the case with your brother.

Although he will always carry the diagnosis of AIDS, what really matters as far as his mortality and morbidity is concerned is how well he has responded to treatment (degree of immune reconstitution). Your brother's recovery is dramatic and very encouraging.

Dr. Bob


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