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CD4 percentage
Mar 6, 2003

Dear Dr. Young:

I have been writing to you periodically about a friend who was recently diagnosed with advanced stage AIDS. His CD4 count is 46, his has MAC and a lingering of pnemonia that his physician still sees on his chest x-ray. You mentioned that a CD4 percentage is often a good indicator for how someone is progressing. His viral load is undetectable and he recently said that his CD4 "absolute" is 13 percent. Is this high? Many thanks for your continued help.

Regards, Karen

Response from Dr. Young

Thanks for your question.

I'll take the liberty of clarifying your statement-- I think that your friend actually has a CD4 percentage that is 13. If this is the case, he's had a very good increase in numbers (on average a CD4% of 13 is roughly equivalent to a absolute number of slightly over 100). If his absolute count is lower than 100, it would suggest that his bone marrow produces somewhat fewer amounts of cells-- this could be a normal variation, or the result of either MAC, HIV or drugs.

The viral load being undetectable is the key piece of information, and is the best indicator of prognosis. -BY



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