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Two numbers to know: CD4/T-cell count and viral load

When you go into your doctor’s office or your medical provider’s office and you first find out you’re living with HIV, they’re going to do a bunch of labs on you. And two important numbers that usually come up and one is the T-cell count or what’s called the CD4. Remember they’re the exact same thing. These are the immune system cells that HIV attacks. Simply put these are the good guys. So you want these T-cells to be higher.
You’ll also get a number called a viral load. That’s actually telling you how much of the virus is in your bloodstream. So this is a number that you don’t want to be high, with the viral load you want it to be lower because the lower the virus is in your bloodstream the less of an impact it’s going to have on your immune system.
So again to just review that, your T-cell count you want to be high, your viral load you want to be low.

Dr. David Malebranche, MD, MPH, a clinician-researcher specializing in HIV, gives the lowdown on all things HIV care and treatment in the latest installment of the #AskTheHIVDoc video series.


#AskTheHIVDoc is a video series from Greater Than HIV featuring top HIV doctors providing answers to commonly-asked questions about HIV prevention, testing and treatment.

This information is shared for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice. The views expressed are those of the featured medical professional and reflect information available to that professional at time of filming. Always consult a health care provider for any personal health decision.

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