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Have I waited too long?
Apr 7, 2004

I tested positive for HIV in March and have rounded up medical care pretty quickly, but I just got some disturbing news from my doctor after my first blood test. He says my viral load is 7,000 (which I understand is good news), but he also says my CD4 count is 280!! This concerns me since I last tested negative for HIV in December 2002. So based on these numbers, was my immune system naturally weak to begin with? Am I dealing with a particularly virulent strain of HIV? or could my 2002 test have been a false negative? I ask because my doctor says my results seem to indicate I've had HIV for years. I need to try to get a handle on this to try to figure out where to go from here.

Response from Dr. Young

Thanks for your post.

It's never too late to start on treatment (besides, at this point, you can't do anything about it, no?).

I usually like to see a second set of labs before launching into treatments-- this is because there is enough variability to the CD4 count that you might be prematurely worried (or not). With a viral load of 7000, it's rather unlikely that you'll have any significant disease progression while waiting for results.

Also, be aware that recent guidelines (often missed by doctors) strongly recommend getting drug resistance testing for persons who are recently infected (even up to a couple of years)-- this is really important, since transmitted resistance is on the rise and picking the wrong medications can have really bad effects on your future options.

Now as for your tests, it's pretty unlikely that you had a false negative, but that's difficult to analyze. Some persons do have disease progression rapidly, though these persons typically have very high viral loads.

Sorry to hear of your predicament, keep in touch and thanks for reading. BY



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