May 20, 2004
I tested positive for HIV in March and have found 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 far gone 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 am just afraid I've somehow managed to let too much time slip by. Now we are in the process of trying to design a treatment and psychologically I am wondering if there's much for me to do. Please help; I need to try to get a handle on this to try to figure out where to go from here.
| Response from Dr. Pierone
During and immediately after primary HIV infection it is not uncommon for CD4 counts to plummet, then come back up in the ensuing year. This is probably what is going on in your case. If so, you should see the CD4 count up next time you have it done. It would be a good idea for you to have this repeated sooner, rather than later to get a better handle on what is going on. False negative HIV tests are rare, so most likely you are dealing with the phenomenon of primary HIV infection-related CD4 dip. Further evidence to bolster interpretation would be if the CD4/CD8 ratio is over 0.5. When you get the repeat numbers please let us know. Good luck!
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