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Just Diagnosed
Nov 4, 2001

Please help me understand my diagnosis, recently I was diagnosed as Hiv Positive/Aids C3. With chronic neutropenia. Can you please tell me in laymen terms exactly what this means ? Thank you.

Response from Dr. Feinberg

"C3" is a Centers for Disease Control category that indicates advanced HIV disease (AIDS). Chronic neutropenia means persistently low neutrophil counts, which is the most numerous kind of white blood cell in your circulation. Low white blood cell counts are common in advanced HIV disease.

I am concerned that no healthcare professional has explained these things to you, and if you have already been seen by a doctor, you may want to find another one who takes the time to explain things. This is your health and your life that you're dealing with, and the more you know about your HIV, the better off you'll be.

You need to find out what your CD4 (T helper cell) count is, because when they are very low you are at risk for various opportunistic infections that take advantage of a damaged immune system. For example, when they're less than 200 you need preventive medicine for Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP). You will need preventive vaccinations, such as Pneumovax and a flu shot. You also need to know what your "viral load" is, which tells you how much HIV is in your blood. And you need to be offered combination treatment for your HIV; accepting treatment will be up to you. Treatment for HIV may improve your neutrophil count, and if it doesn't, there is a specific treatment to boost the number of these cells if they are critically low. Good luck!

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