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what does my cd4 count tell?

Oct 23, 2008

Dear Doc,

My CD4 result is 412 while my viral load is 36700 (using cobas ampliprep/taqman). What does it show? My doctor said that both readings are still considered normal. I'm seeking a second opinion. Thanks.

Response from Dr. Frascino


Normal? No, not really. Not having HIV would be normal.

The CD4 count is a measure of your immune function. HIV infects these cells and eventually destroys them. As they decline, we become increasingly immune deficient, which leaves us open to getting opportunistic illnesses that can cause all sorts of trouble. Your count of 412 is reasonable. Current guidelines suggest beginning antiretroviral medications when the CD4 count drops into the 350 range.

The HIV plasma viral load is a measure of virus activity, i.e., how rapidly HIV is reproducing itself. A value of 36,700 is elevated but still considered to be reasonably low. ("Normal" would be no viral load because you are not infected with HIV.)

You can read much more about HIV monitoring tests in the archives. Have a look around.

Good luck.

Dr. Bob


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