CD4 Count: Normal Range, Viral Load, and What It Means for People

If person has received an HIV diagnosis, there are two things they ’ ll want to know : their CD4 count and their viral load. These values give them and their healthcare team important information about :

  • the health of their immune system
  • the progression of HIV in their body
  • how their body responds to HIV therapy
  • how the virus itself responds to HIV therapy

The draw a bead on of treatment is to raise the CD4 count and lower the viral warhead. When viral levels become undetectable, the virus is no longer catching during intimate activeness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ). regular test can besides ensure levels stay indiscernible, and this can boost the person ’ s quality of life.

What is a CD4 count?

A CD4 count is a blood test to check the total of CD4 cells in the body. CD4 cells are a type of white rake cell. They play a key function in the immune organization. They alert other immune cells to the presence of infections such as bacteria and other viruses in the consistency. CD4 cells are besides a subset of immune cells called T cells. When a person is living with HIV, the virus attacks the CD4 cells in their blood. This summons damages CD4 cells and causes a shed in the number of them in the body, making it difficult to fight infections. Monitoring CD4 cells is important for people who are receiving treatment for HIV. CD4 counts change wide. For many people, however, the higher a CD4 count is when they receive a diagnosis and start treatment, the more promptly they are likely to see it rise as a solution of therapy. This is one rationality why an early diagnosis is essential. The chart below summarizes the ranges of CD4 counts :CD4 countMeaning500–1,600 cells/mm3Most people without HIV have this level.250–500 cells/mm3The immune system is compromised, and one reason could be HIV.Under 200 cells/mm3A doctor will diagnose AIDS. cluster of differentiation 4 counts show the robustness of the immune system. A healthy immune system normally has a CD4 count ranging from 500 to 1,600 cells per cubic millimeter of rake ( cells/mm3 ), according to When a CD4 count is lower than 200 cells/mm3, a person will receive a diagnosis of AIDS. AIDS is a discriminate discipline that can develop in a person with HIV. It is besides called stagecoach 3 of HIV. At this stage, the body ’ s immune system is unaccented due to the low number of CD4 cells available to fight disease, and the person ’ second risk of infection is very high .

What causes a CD4 count to drop?

CD4 cells are part of the immune system. They are award in blood cells and help protect the consistency from disease. When HIV enters body cells, it reproduces or makes copies of itself. As it does so, it causes CD4 cells to die, leaving the body more prone to contagion and disease. typically, the more virus that ’ sulfur in the body, the lower the levels of CD4 will be, the more the immune system will be compromised, and the higher the person ’ s risk of infection. Antiretroviral discussion suppresses the virus and gives CD4 cells a gamble to recover. As a person receives treatment, they can expect CD4 levels to rise. In the first class of antiretroviral treatment, you can expect typically to see a person ’ second CD4 count rise by 50–150 cells/mm3. After that, there will be slower annual increases .

What are other factors that affect CD4 count?

HIV is not the only factor affecting CD4 levels. The follow can besides have an affect :

  • Circadian rhythms, also called the body clock, vary during the day. One result of this is that CD4 levels tend to be lower in the morning and higher as the day progresses.
  • Having an infection, such as the flu, pneumonia, or hepatitis B, can cause CD4 levels to fall.
  • Some treatments, such as chemotherapy or single-dose steroids can cause CD4 levels to drop. However, ongoing steroid use may increase CD4 levels.

other factors that may play a role include :

  • stress
  • fatigue
  • nicotine or alcohol use
  • pregnancy

For this reason, there may be some variation in CD4 levels, even if a person ’ s health status has not changed. besides, the CD4 level will not affect how a person feels. Some people have low CD4 levels and serve well, while others experience complications despite having higher levels .

What is a viral load?

An HIV viral burden test measures the number of HIV particles in a milliliter ( milliliter ) of blood. These particles are besides known as “ copies. ” The trial assesses the progress of HIV in the body. It ’ mho besides utilitarian in seeing how well a person ’ sulfur HIV therapy is managing the virus in their torso. A person may have a high viral load soon after contracting HIV or if treatment is not proving effective. When a person first contracts the virus, levels will rise significantly, but in the next 3 to 8 weeks, the body starts to produce antibodies. This can reduce the virus levels. A viral load can include over a million copies per milliliter of blood, specially after late exposure, according to an experimental sketch of data published in 2018. effective treatment will result in viral suppression. This is when there are fewer than 200 copies/mL. At this stage, the hazard of HIV advance is low, but the virus is still award A person can silent pass on the virus. As treatment progresses, the viral warhead can become thus low that it is indiscernible in a test. An undetectable viral lode will be under 40 to 75 copies in a rake sample. This means there are relatively few copies of HIV in the blood. When this happens, it is nobelium longer possible to pass the virus on to another person during sex, according to the CDC. An undetectable sum of HIV is untransmittable. however, continued discussion is necessary to ensure the viral load remains undetectable.

CD4 count vs. viral load

There ’ s no direct relationship between CD4 consider and viral load. In the past, doctors used the CD4 count as an indicator of when to start therapy, but advances in HIV medicine have changed this. now it serves as an index of immune system stability. however, in general, a high CD4 reckon and a moo — or undetectable — viral load are desirable. The higher the CD4 count, the healthier the immune system. The lower the viral cargo, the likelier it is that HIV therapy is working. When HIV invades healthy CD4 cells, the virus uses them to make new copies of HIV before destroying them. When HIV remains untreated, the CD4 count decreases, and the viral load increases.

The follow chart gives a general mind of what the levels of CD4 and viral burden mean for a person with HIV, based on guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services .How serious is this?CD4 levelViral loadA person needs medical attention and will need prophylactic medications to prevent opportunistic infections.200 cells/mm3over 200 copies/mLMonitoring is essential, but a doctor may consider levels stable.300–500 cells/mm3 less than 200 copies/mLAcceptable levels.500–1,500 cells/mm3less than 20–75 copies/mL

Getting tested

Most people living with HIV will have regular CD4 and viral load tests, but the frequency will vary, according to how their discussion progresses and how their body responds to it .

How often should you test your CD4 counts?

Most people will need a test every 3 to 6 months, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. More frequent testing may be needed if :

  • you are just starting treatment
  • you change medications
  • your have a viral load that is difficult to suppress

CD4 statusNeed for testingMost people with detectable virus.Every 3–6 monthsHIV responds well to treatment, and CD4 levels have been stable between 300–500 cells/mm3 for 2 years.Every 12 monthsViral load remains undetectable, and CD4 counts are over 500 cells/mm3 for 2 years.May be optional however, if any change occurs in the person ’ s health or treatment condition, the doctor will review the examination agenda .

How often should you test your viral load counts?

The frequency of testing will depend on how soon after the diagnosis it is, the treatment, and how good the torso is responding. current guidelines provided by recommend the succeed intervals for testing :StatusFrequency of testingThe person has just started antiretroviral treatment or their doctor has changed their treatment.After 2–8 weeksUntil the viral load becomes undetectable.Every 4–8 weeksWhile the viral load is stable.Every 3–4 monthsAfter levels remain stable for 2 years.Up to 6 months interval

Why is it important to get tested regularly?

CD4 and viral load quiz can help you and your repair sympathize :

  • how well treatment is working
  • your risk of developing an opportunistic infection
  • the risk of HIV progressing to AIDS

The results can guide decisions about future quiz and treatment strategies .

Can you test at home?

There is presently no CD4 testing at home, and a doctor would need to interpret any results, as they would need to take other factors into account. Doctors besides prefer to use the lapp test facilities to ensure consistency. In some countries, point-of-care screen is available. The CDC is looking into this option for the United States, but it ’ s not however available.

Why is it important to get tested regularly?

A one CD4 or viral cargo test result only represents a snapshot in time. It ’ south important to track both of these and consider trends in examination results rather than only looking at person test results. Keep in beware that these values may vary for many reasons. The time of day, any illnesses, and late vaccinations can all affect CD4 count and viral load. Unless the CD4 count is very depleted, this fluctuation isn ’ t normally worrisome. even viral load tests, not CD4 counts, are used to determine the potency of HIV therapy. The goal of HIV therapy is to reduce or suppress the viral load to an undetectable floor. According to, HIV viral warhead is typically undetectable below levels of 40 to 75 copies/mL. The exact count depends on the lab that analyzes the tests .


Some people may experience blips. These are impermanent, frequently little increases in viral load. A healthcare professional will monitor the viral load more closely to see if it returns to an undetectable level without any change in therapy .

Drug resistance

Another cause for regular viral load tests is to monitor any drug electric resistance to the appointed HIV therapy. Maintaining a moo viral load reduces the gamble of developing resistance to the therapy. A healthcare master can use viral load tests to make necessary changes to a person ’ second HIV therapy regimen .

Why is HIV therapy so important?

HIV therapy is besides called antiretroviral therapy or highly active antiretroviral therapy ( HAART ). It consists of a combination of antiretroviral drugs. They ’ re designed to keep the virus from spreading throughout your body by targeting different proteins or mechanisms the virus uses to replicate. Antiretroviral therapy can make the viral load so low that it can ’ deoxythymidine monophosphate be detected by a test. This is called an indiscernible viral load. If a person is virally suppressed or has an undetectable viral load, their HIV is well managed. Starting HIV therapy american samoa soon as an HIV diagnosis is received aid allow a person to live a long, healthy life. stream treatment guidelines provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommend that a person living with HIV begin antiretroviral drugs adenine soon as possible after diagnosis. This is essential to reducing opportunist infections and preventing complications from HIV. effective discussion can besides help prevent the transmission of HIV to others. This is besides known as “ treatment as prevention. ” According to the CDC, people with HIV who take their positive medications and maintain an undetectable viral cargo have “ efficaciously no risk ” of transmitting HIV during sexual bodily process .

What’s the outlook for people with HIV?

No matter the degree of HIV, there are advantages to keeping track of the CD4 count and viral burden.

HIV discussion has come a long room in recent years. Following a recommended treatment plan and leading a healthy life style can help a person keep their CD4 count high and their viral load low. early on treatment and effective monitor can help a person manage their condition, reduce their gamble of complications, and live a long and healthy animation .

source :
Category : Healthy