Does the sed rate test have anything to do with HIV?

Question

Does the sed rate test have anything to do with HIV? In other words if you have a normal sed rate, would that be unsual in the setting of HIV. Also, since the sed rate indicates inflammation, if it were normal would that mean that you have no swollen lymph nodes in your body?

Please help me clear this matter, my doctor is very weird and I dont think he knows what he is talking about.

Answer

The sed rate, also known as erythocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), is a test which, as you note in your query, indicates inflammation or infection. We doctors refer to the sed rate as a non-specific test. What this means is that an abnormally high sed rate tells the health care provider that something is going on in the patient's body, but it doesn't tell the provider what exactly that something is. There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of conditions which can cause a sed rate to be elevated including many types of infection, heart attack, rheumatic fever, pelvic inflammatory disease, pregnancy, rheumatoid arthritis, many forms of cancer, thyroid disease, kidney disease, and so on. Because sed rates are so non-specific (i.e., so many things make them go up), I don't find them particularly helpful in my patients-- I can't even remember when was the last time I ordered a sed rate in one of my HIV patients. Depending upon what's happening, the sed rate can be normal or high in an HIV-infected patient. So to answer your question specifically-- Sed rates have little, if anything, to do with HIV. A normal sed rate is no guarantee that you have no swollen lymph nodes. I'm sorry to hear that you think your doctor is weird.