Help understanding labs; worth disclosing status and labs with family?
Jan 12, 2014
Dear Dr. Holodniy,
I'm writing to you because I just came back from the doctor and got my first labs - can you help me understand them? I'll copy the results exactly as they are on the report.
VIRAL LOAD TEST HIV-1 RNA, PCR, 2ND GEN HIV, RNA, PCR - 1,000,000 H Copies/mL LOG COPIES/ML - 6 Log CPS/mL
What are the log copies? Are they just a conversion of the PCR copies? Should I even pay attention to the log copies, or just look at hiv, RNA, PCR copies? That one seems to be more specific.
Here's the T cell test results:
CD3+/CD4+ (HELPER) 833 cu.mm CD3+/CD4+ (HELPER)% 41 Percent
What does the CD3 mean? Is there a formula to get CD4% value from CD4 counts?
Are these labs pretty good? My viral load PCR copies seem really high.
Oh, and what is the "normal range" for CD4 counts? Is it 500 -1,000 or 600 - 1200?
Also, I want to hear your opinion on disclosing status to family. When it comes time, I know I can afford to pay for meds without family assistance. That being my biggest worry, is it even worth it to disclose status to family? I don't want them worrying about me.
Response from Dr. Holodniy
Yes, 1 million is the same as 6 log10 copies/mL. It is just a different way mathematically of expressing the same number. Copy number and not log copy number is the way most patients like to keep track of that number. Your viral load copy number is very high, but hard to know what that means without more points on the line, with respect to which way is the number going. CD3+ cells are all t lymphocytes (which includes CD4+ helper cells and CD8+ cells). So when you are given a number of CD3+CD4+ cells that is just telling you what your CD4 count is. So your CD4% is 41% and your CD4 count is 833, which is in the normal range (usually 500-1500). Regarding disclosure, and knowing that all family dynamics are different, I am very much for disclosure and truth-telling.
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