What is CD4 and its relationship to HIV infection? We will learn more about this together in this article.
CD4, or cluster of differentiation 4, is a type of white blood cell that controls and helps fight infection and pathogens that enter our body. It is a glycoprotein found on white blood cells’ surface that functions related to our immune system or T-helper. Its primary function is to trigger our immune system to destroy viruses, bacteria, fungi, and other germs that may make us sick.
CD4 is essential, not only to HIV patients but to everyone, because every human needs to have a strong immune system to fight germs and protect us from disease. Nonetheless, CD4 is more vital for HIV patients because HIV weakens their immune systems, damaging their immunity. Therefore, patients with HIV must monitor their immunity by assessing the white blood cell count, CD4, to determine the body’s antibody level. The patient’s CD4 level is vital information for treatment planning and continuing to take care of oneself.
A CD4 test is performed by obtaining a blood test to determine the CD4 count. The measured level represents the body’s immunological system. The lower the CD4 count, the weaker the immune system. In other words, the lower the CD4 count, the more vulnerable to other infections, which can lead to other opportunistic infections (OIs) and the development of AIDS (AIDS).
However, the CD4 count of both HIV-infected and uninfected individuals might vary depending on their physical condition at the time of day, for example, during periods of discomfort or days when they don’t get enough sleep.
(The CD4 count normal range (for uninfected individuals) is 500 to 1500 cells/mm3.)
What is the concerning level of CD4 count?
A low CD4 count is common in patients with HIV, which means that HIV has weakened their immune system. A CD4 count of 200 or fewer cells per cubic millimeter implies that you have AIDS and a high risk of developing life-threatening OIs due to immunodeficiency. Nonetheless, if HIV patients receive antiretroviral therapy (ART) continuously, their CD4 count could increase and stabilize at 500-600 cells per cubic millimeter, depending on each person’s physical condition.
However, regardless of whether a person has HIV or not, eating foods from all five food groups, exercising regularly, and getting sufficient rest will help the body maintain a healthy immune system.
Apart from patients with HIV, who else should do the CD4 count?
- Patients who have undergone organ transplants will have to take CD4 count as a high CD4 count could lead to organ transplant failure due to resistance to the transplanted organ. Organ transplant patients must take immunosuppressants to reduce the quantity of CD4 in the body and increase the success of organ transplantation.
- Taking CD4 and CD8 tests could support diagnosing and evaluating treatment in patients with leukemia.
- The CD4 count is recommended for patients with a genetic disease, DiGeorge syndrome (DGS), as babies born with DGS have immunodeficiency.
We hope you have gained a better understanding of the relationship between the CD4 count and HIV. If you have any queries or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us and inquire through any contact channels.