Adapted from original prepared for the ACE directory by Al McKittrick
It is very important to get into medical care even if you are feeling healthy. There are two kinds of tests that can measure the degree to which your HIV progresses.
- A T-cell count or CD4+ count lets you know how many T-cells you have. A normal count for people not infected with HIV is usually 800-1200. An HIV+ person who has progressed to AIDS will have a count below 200, though an AIDS diagnosis can also be made at higher counts if you develop an opportunistic infection. If your count is below 200, your doctor should recommend that you take certain “prophylactic” drugs (usually antibiotics) to prevent you from getting some of the more serious illnesses and infections that people with suppressed immune systems are at risk for.
- A viral load test shows how much virus is floating around in your blood. Results can range from undetectable (under 20 copies of the virus; a good result), on up to a count in the millions (not good news). An Undetectable viral load is a good sign that your immune system is doing well, however it is still possible to pass HIV to others through sex and/or blood contact. You want to get a high T-cell count and a low viral load, but there are treatment options for all combinations of T-cell counts and viral loads. Doctors and patient advocates recommend you get both tests every six months. Monitoring these tests and preventing other health problems are very important in maintaining good health.
More Information: Treatment Options