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Feb 17, 2000

I must have worded my question wrong. What I wanted to say was that when my sons doctors did the last blood tests it showed that his neutrophils were off and his white blood cells were degenerating.I have since found an article on a rare disease called Neutropenia.This disease causes very low white blood cell counts.People who are born with this or develop it have a very hard time fighting off infections and not having it treated can be fatal.This article also stated that treatments for cancer and AIDS can cause neutropenia.My question>will this blood cell problem,whatever it is, cause my sons HIV to progress more rapidly since white blood cells are so important to the immune system?I feel as though he is getting a "double whammy" so to speak. Thank you for your time.

Response from Dr. Feinberg

Neutropenia isn't rare, it's relatively common among some kinds of patients. People with HIV in general tend to have low or low normal white blood cell counts, and often have neutropenia as a result (neutrophils are a common type of white blood cell). Also, some medications for HIV will also contribute to neutropenia. But this rarely reaches critically low levels that make people more prone to bacterial infections (which is what neutrophils are supposed to protect you from). Mostly with HIV disease we are concerned about low levels of another kind of white blood cell, the lymphocyte. People with very low lymphocyte counts -- especially a subtype called CD4 or T4 cells -- can get the opportunistic infections that are the hallmark of HIV/AIDS.

In the case that your son's neutrophil count does reach a dangerously low level, there is a treatment called GCSF that is a substance that stimulates the body to make more white blood cells. So take heart -- his situation is neither as dangerous nor as hopeless as your research has led you to believe.

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