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CD4 and Viral Load

Oct 2, 2005

I recently tested POZ after a random check-up. I'm a 40 yr. old WM. My first test showed a CD4 count of 375 and viral count of 57K. My next test (4 weeks later) was 345 and 10K. Is body using up CD4 cells to fight HIV; is this why my viral count was lower? Does smoking cigarettes (my vice) reduce CD4 levels? Thank you!!!

Response from Dr. Holodniy

Those numbers (both CD4 and viral load) are actually within assay variability. Another number you need to follow is the CD4 percent. I suspect that although the absolute CD4 count looks slightly lower, the percent has remained the same. In the presence of ongoing HIV replication (as measured by a detectable plasma viral load), new CD4 cells are becoming infected and then dying, leading to a decrease in CD4 count. Another set of numbers or two will determine how soon you will need HIV treatment.

Smoking per se does not reduce CD4 count, but it's always a good idea to quit and preserve lung function. You'd also reduce the risk of lung infection complications with HIV infection.

CD4 with viral load info
Can a viral load test diagnose HIV?

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