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understanding the numbers
Feb 7, 2004

The first numbers were T4: 1082, VL 102879 thata was in November Today Jan 22, the numbers were: t4: 593 and HIV RNA ultra: 26453 copies/ml what does this mean? also the result said: HIV 1 RNA per 1 ml of plasma, Viral load.I don't understand this. Please help.

Response from Dr. Pierone

The T4 cells are also known as CD4 lymphocytes, the higher the better since these are an important type of infection fighting cells of the immune system. Normal levels are about 1000. When CD4 counts are as high as yours, there often is significant variability in levels (change of several hundred CD4 cells from one test to the next is common).

The viral load is the level of virus in the blood, the lower the better of course. This can vary tremendously as well. Even getting a cold or a vaccine can cause viral load to spike to a high level. The viral load is used to predict the progression of HIV infection. Persons with viral load over 100,000 copies tend to lose CD4 cells more rapidly than someone with a viral load under 10,000. With high CD4 counts it is unlikely that you will be starting antiretroviral therapy any time soon. When HIV medications are started, the viral load is tracked to follow response to treatment. The goal is to get the viral load undetectable (<75 copies/ml) and then keep it there. When this happens, the CD4 counts increase and keep on rising as long as the viral load is kept under control. Hope that this explanation helps. Good luck!

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