What is Your CD4 Count
CD4 cells are also referred to as “T-cells.” These cells are a type of white blood cell that helps fight germs, bacteria and infections.
HIV binds to CD4 cells and infects them. When the cells multiply as they do to fight an infection, it makes more copies of HIV. Uncontrolled and untreated, HIV decreases the CD4 cells in your body and can eliminate complete “families” of cells that fight specific germs leaving you at risk of developing an opportunistic infection.
The average person without HIV has between 500 and 1200 T-cells (which are measured within a cubic millimeter of blood). When your T-cells drop below 200 or when you have an opportunistic infection, you are considered to have AIDS. With a few exceptions, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) guidelines recommend starting therapy at the 350 T-cell mark.
As part of your basic clinical assessment when you are newly diagnosed, your doctor will give you a CD4 test. The outcome of the test will let you and your doctor know where you stand with the disease initially and will be a benchmark of when you might want to start treatment. Your doctor will give you another test in about 2-to-6 weeks from the first one and then every 3-to-6 months from then on. It’s important to keep up with this because the numbers, going up, down or stable, let you know really how healthy you are and how effective your treatment is.
Its also important to know that your T-cells can fluctuate up or down normally too. Some of the things that can cause a fluctuation are time of day, illness or infection, fatigue and stress. Try to keep your labs and times as consistent as possible to give yourself and your doctor a true read of where you stand.
Keeping up with your CD4 count can keep you healthy and give you peace of mind so stay on top of it!
Copyright 2012, Positive Health Publications, Inc.
This magazine is intended to enhance your relationship with your doctor - not replace it! Medical treatments and products should always be discussed with a licensed physician who has experience treating HIV and AIDS!