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Blood Tests May Monitor HIV Disease Progression

Blood Tests May Monitor HIV Disease Progression


Tests determining total lymphocyte counts and hemoglobin concentrations in the blood can be used to track HIV disease progression, offering additional or alternative tests to the standard HIV viral load and CD4-cell counts, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. Falling lymphocyte counts and hemoglobin levels were shown in a study of nearly 3,300 HIV-positive men to be associated with HIV disease progression. The blood-based levels tended to remain stable during the first few years of HIV infection but began to rapidly drop when severe immune system damage started to occur. That quick decline usually begins about 1.5 years before an AIDS diagnosis, according to the report, published in the September 2003 edition of the journal AIDS. Total lymphocyte counts and hemoglobin screenings could be cost-effective ways to test for immune system damage because they are already part of routine blood work, the researchers wrote.

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