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Red blood cell indices and recent infection
May 11, 1998

My question is in reference to recent exposures (under 1 year) to Hiv and whether or not certain abnormal RBC indices are usually seen? Is this more common in the later stages of Hiv/Aids, and/or with the use of certain medications? Thanks for your time.

Response from Mr. Molaghan

Hello

During the phase of acute infection, some people do develop anemia with a lower than normal red blood count, hematocrit and hemoglobin. Also, the white blood cell count (WBC) and lymphocyte count can be decreased. This decrease is usually transient, and sustained abnormal indices are usually seen later in HIV disease due to infection, bone marrow suppression by HIV or as a side effect of some medicines used to treat HIV and related illnesses. The best way to confirm infection after exposure is to be tested for HIV. If one is infected with HIV, positive results can be found as early as six weeks after exposure. If the test is negative, it is important to seek evaluation for some other cause of abnormal RBC indices.


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