Understanding HIV-Related Lab Tests I: Complete Blood Count and Blood Chemistry
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Having regular lab tests is a necessary part of caring for your health. If you are living with HIV (HIV+), lab tests are especially important tools that help you and your health care provider keep track of how you are doing in the following areas:
Immune System Status
When you are first diagnosed as HIV+ and when you first start taking HIV drugs, you should get "baseline" tests that give a picture of your health at that moment. Later tests can be compared against these results to see how things are going, and if they are changing. Most lab tests should be done every three to six months, or as often as your health care provider recommends.
Because different labs use different equipment, test results from different labs can vary. Therefore, it is a good idea to have your tests done at the same lab each time. If you get an unexpected result on one test, your health care provider will probably want you to get a second test to see if the results are the same as the first one. Try not to worry too much about a single unexpected result -- usually trends over time are more important.
Most lab reports show the normal range of results from each test and highlight any of your results that are outside the normal range. The ranges listed below are general and may not be exactly the same as your lab. Look at your lab report for the normal ranges they use.
Blood is made up of different types of cells including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. The complete blood count (CBC) is a test that measures the amount of these cells in a sample of your blood. CBCs are especially important for HIV+ people because some HIV drugs and infections can cause changes in your red or white blood cell counts.
This article was provided by The Well Project. Visit The Well Project's Web site to learn more about their resources and initiatives for women living with HIV. The Well Project shares its content with TheBody.com to ensure all people have access to the highest quality treatment information available. The Well Project receives no advertising revenue from TheBody.com or the advertisers on this site. No advertiser on this site has any editorial input into The Well Project's content.
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