What is HIV?
- HIV is the virus that causes AIDS.
- HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus.
- If someone has the HIV virus in his/her body, then that person has HIV. It does not mean that the person has AIDS.
- The HIV virus attacks the person’s immune system.
- Everyone reacts differently to this virus. Some people may have no symptoms for a long time, and some people may have many serious symptoms.
- Seeing your healthcare provider on a regular basis is very important in controlling this disease. The healthcare provider can monitor your disease by checking your CD4 count and viral load on a regular basis.
What does the CD4 count mean to me?
- Blood consists of two kinds of cells; one kind is red blood cells, and the other kind is white blood cells.
- White blood cells are part of the immune system. One kind of white blood cells is the T-Lymphocyte.
- Some T-Lymphocytes contain a marker called the CD4 marker. These cells are the ones that the HIV virus attacks.
- When the healthcare professional draws blood to check your CD4 count, he/she is looking to see how many of the T-Lymphocytes you have in your blood that have not been attacked by the HIV virus. This helps to show if your medicine is doing its job, or if it is time to start medication.
- Individuals with a CD4 count of less than 200 that are exhibiting symptoms of the disease are considered to have developed AIDS.
What does the viral load mean to me?
- The viral load is also a test that your healthcare provider can run on a sample of your blood.
- This test tells your healthcare provider how much HIV virus is in your blood. This also helps to show if your medicine is fighting the virus effectively or if you need to start medication.
- Treating HIV is not just about treating your physical health. Treating this disease means treating your mind, body, and spirit. We want to help you to be the healthiest person you can be, but we can only do this with your help.