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Understanding Your LabsUnderstanding Your Labs
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2 Labs differences

Sep 23, 2012

Hello, I got the results of my viral load and CD4 in two different labs. There was only a week of difference between both labs. I am not taking any medication yet. Note that these 2 results are the first labs after the notice I was HIV+. First Lab: Viral Load around 1800 and CD4 around 660 Second Lab: Viral Load around 15000 and CD4 around 400 How is it possible to get so different values? I did not tell my 2 doctors about this experiment, I want to continue comparing recomendations. One of them told me I was very lucky and the other one told me that probably I should start taking medications.

Response from Dr. Holodniy

Given the two different results, the recommendations from each of the doctors is understandable and correct for the specific result. This is why we always counsel patients and providers to stick with the same lab and same assay type if at all possible, as there is assay, operator, and laboratory variability that can occur. It is usually not to this degree, as those differences would be outside of the expected variability range. CD4 counts can vary because of time of day, other ongoing medical conditions, after vaccinations, stress, among other reasons. Viral loads can vary for some of these situations as well.

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