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Diagnosing opportunistic diseases with blood tests
Nov 29, 1999

If you have an opportunistic infection such as CMV or any other, would a CBC, Blood Chemistry, Cholesterol or any blood test, other than a specific HIV test, detect them? Secondly, these CD counts you refer to, are they measured in a CBC or just HIV specific tests? Thank you for your time.

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Thank you for your question.

Tests like CBC's (Complete Blood Counts), blood chemistry tests, and so forth, are very general screening tests, and are not used to diagnose any particular disease. For example, these tests by themselves cannot be used to diagnose HIV or any of the opportunistic diseases associated with AIDS. But these lab tests can give a doctor clues as to what may be the cause of a persons symptoms. To determine the exact cause of a persons symptoms, a doctor would have to do additional lab tests, as well as knowing the patients entire medical history, and the patients disease risk history. So these tests by themselves cannot tell a doctor if a person has HIV, an opportunistic disease, or any other disease specifically. But sometimes, if abnormalities are seen on these general screening tests, this can then give a doctor certain clues as to what specific diseases to test for.

When a person gets a CBC, this test does not normally include a CD4 cell count. A CD4 cell count is a different test than a CBC. We normally will only do a CD4 cell count if a person is already known (or highly suspected) to have HIV, or another disease of the immune system.

The only tests that can determine if a person has HIV or not, are tests that are specifically designed to diagnose HIV (for example HIV antibody tests).

Likewise, the only way to know if a person has an opportunistic disease or not, is for a doctor to test specifically for each of these diseases. Since opportunistic diseases are actually an entire group of diseases, there are many different tests that are done to determine if a person has one of these diseases or not. A doctor will determine which of these tests to run depending on the medical history of the patient, the patients disease risk history, and the symptoms the patient is having. There are different tests for different opportunistic diseases. Depending on the disease they are testing for, these tests can range from (but are not limited to) specific blood tests, biopsies, MRI's, CAT scans, x-rays, and other laboratory procedures.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to e-mail me at "nvhotline@aol.com" or call me at (Nationwide). I'm glad to help!



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