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Rapid progression?
Jun 26, 2011

I'm a 20 year old male and I was infected with HIV last August. I tested positive on December 1st, 2010. My western blot came back positive on December 7th, 2010.

Here are the last three results from my labs-

12/28/10- T Cells: 672 Viral load: 1,000 2/17/11- T Cells: 611 Viral load: 588 6/8/11 - T Cells: 347 Viral load: 3947

My hiv specialist just drew more blood today and is retesting me for the genotype because there was not enough of virus in my blood the last time they tested it. Could this be considered a rapid progression? I asked my specialist and she said that this was just one test and she needs another one before she lets me know my options for treatment. I'm just nervous because of how rapidly my CD 4 cells dropped. I'm also nervous because one of the girls in my support group mentioned that after she took her medication her viral load became undetectable but her t cells were cut in half. If mine were cut in half it, it would be less than 200. My doctor told me not to obsess over my numbers and let her do the worrying because she wants me to feel relaxed after a very long, stressful semester. So I guess my overall question would be is the dramatic drop in my CD4 cells indicative of a rapid progression? Does having a viral load just shy of 4,000 and having my CD4 cells dip to 347 mean my immune system is not as strong as my doctors suggested after my initial infection? Thank you in advance.

Response from Dr. Holodniy

I agree with your doctor's plan and advise. I would also be curious to know what your CD4% is, which is usually a more stable number over time, and whether it also declined or are you just seeing a variance in the CD4 count which may or may not be meaningful given the stable and low viral load. The June CD4 count seems out of whack even though the viral load has increased some. I doubt this is rapid progression and would have it repeated to see if that decline is real. If you need to start HIV treatment I would also doubt that your CD4 count would decline.



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