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CD4 T-cell count in HIV patients

Related Terms

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Background

  • The human immunodeficiency virus, also known as HIV infection, is a retrovirus that causes AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome). The retrovirus primarily attacks the body's immune system, making the patient extremely vulnerable to opportunistic infections (infections that occur in immunocompromised individuals).
  • HIV is transmitted from person to person via bodily fluids, including blood semen, vaginal discharge, and breast milk.
  • HIV can infect and kill many different types of cells in the body, but the primary targets are immune cells called CD4 T-cells. The CD4 T-cells are a type of T-lymphocyte (white blood cells) that helps coordinate the immune system's response to infection and disease. These cells express a molecule called CD4 on their surfaces, which allow them to detect foreign substances, including viruses that enter the body. HIV binds to the receptors on CD4 cells and enters the white blood cell. Once inside the cell, HIV begins replicating.
  • The first stage of HIV, known as the primary or acute infection, is the most infectious stage of the disease, and it typically lasts several weeks. During this phase, the virus replicates rapidly, which leads to an abundance of the virus in the bloodstream and a drastic decline in the number of CD4 T-cells. The CD8 T-cells (cells that kill abnormal or infected body cells) are then activated to destroy HIV-infected body cells and antibodies are produced. An estimated 80-90% of HIV patients experience flu-like symptoms during this stage.
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Absolute Cd4 Count

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Cd4 Percentage Test

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Cd4:cd8 Ratio

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Viral Load Tests

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Interpreting Test Results

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Testing Frequency

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Author Information

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References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

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The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.