HIV diagnosis

Infection with the virus is diagnosed by the presence of antibodies to HTV in the blood. These antibodies are usually present in the blood a few weeks after infection. However, in some cases the body may take as long as 35 months to produce detectable antibody levels. Regular testing is recommended for anyone in a high risk group.

HIV diagnosisWhile HIV affects a number of different immune cells, it has been found that much of the immune system dysfunction can be explained by the effects of HTV on a certain type of cells called CD4+ lymphocytes (CD4+ T cells). These cells play a crucial role in the immune response, signaling other cells in the immune system to perform their special defensive functions. During the course of infection, the number of these cells progressively declines. The level of CD4+ lymphocytes in the blood has been shown to predict the onset of AIDS symptoms.

A healthy, uninfected person usually has around 800 to 1300 CD4+ lymphocytes per microliter (one millionth of a liter) of blood. Vulnerability to opportunistic infections and cancer increases when an HIV-infected person's CD4+ lymphocyte count falls below 200 to 300 cells per microliter.

 
 
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