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Blood Test - Sedimentation Rate

Mar 25, 1997

Doctor, Does high Sedimentation rate indicates, some kind of infection (including HIV) that is happening in the body. Is it an accurate indication of any kind of infection. Thanks

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question.

The Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR) is a very general indicator of various diseases (both infectious and non-infectious). This is a very general test, and is not diagnostic for any particular disease or disorder. An abnormal ESR does not diagnose any particular disease. Likewise, a normal ESR does not mean the person is totally healthy, since a person can have many types of diseases, with a normal ESR. Physicians use this test as a general guide to determine if there is some type of inflammatory disease, or this test can help a physician diagnose various illnesses (when used in conjunction with other tests).

Some diseases cause an increase in the ESR, while others cause a decrease. An increase in the ESR can be due to numerous causes including (but not limited to), inflammatory diseases, various types of infections, severe anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, and even various types of cancers.

If a person has an abnormally high ESR, it is not an indication the person has HIV. But in persons already known to have HIV, the ESR (when used along with other tests like CD4 cell counts and viral loads) can be used as a general indicator of AIDS progression, and how the person is doing clinically over time.

Lymphocyte Count
Acute viral syndrome / CD4 count

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