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Understanding the meaing of CD4 count, cd4, etc
Dec 21, 2003

Dear Doctors

I desperately need help. My nephew tested pos +- 3 months ago with the foloowing blood results: CD4 count =488 CD4 =37 CD8 =63 Viral Load =2803

How bad is her condition? She is currently healthy except for some skin rash which the doctor says is caused by stapylococcus bacteria. She eats relatively healthy food. Given that she is not yet on meds, how long before the VL shoots up and her getting sick? What can she do to keep her CD4 count stable or to increase, as well as lower VL.

Your help is highly appreciated

Response from Dr. Young

Thanks for your questions.

Overall, I'd find that your family member is probably in pretty good health, from a HIV standpoint.

Her CD4 count (and CD4%) are measures of her immune health-- these numbers are actually in the normal range, indicating that her immune system is working very well.

The viral load is a measure of how much virus is in the blood-- the higher the number, the faster that HIV tends to injure the immune system. An average viral load is about 50,000-- your niece's viral load is less than 10% of the average one, suggesting that her disease won't likely progress very rapidly.

The best thing that she can do now for her health is to make sure that she has a good HIV doctor and gets regular follow up-- there are a number of vaccinations that she should get-- an annual flu shot, hepatitis vaccinations and pneumonia vaccination; she should definitely get annual PAP smears. Above all else, ensuring good diet, exercise, avoidance of smoking and injection drugs and wearing seat belts will minimize the risk of premature health problems.

Good luck, thanks for reading. BY



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