Q and A

Question

Can your CD4 count show how long you have had HIV?

Does your CD4 count tell you how long you have had HIV? I think I must have had it for a least 8 years. Today I had my first CD4 count results – 578 and my viral load is 3930. I have always been very healthy and looked after my diet could this be the reason why I am still well.

Answer

Thank you for your question.

Your CD4 count is still strong and your low viral load is also good.

Unfortunately, neither of these tests can show when you were infected. This is because there are such big differences between different people. Together with your hisotry of risk or exposure, the results can sometimes be interpreted to estimate how long your have been positive. This is always just a guess though.

If you don’t start treatment straight away, future CD4 and viral load test results will give an idea of how fast or slowly HIV is progressing. On average a person loses fifty CD4 cells a year, but there is still a lot of variability between people, so you are unlikely to ever know for certain.

Most people never find out when they were infected though.

It is good that you have a good diet but this is not directly linked to either CD4 or viral load.

Note: This answer was updated in October 2016 from an original quest posted in March 2008.

4 comments

  1. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Bruce,

    It sounds like you could have been unwell in 2017. How are you now? I hope you’re feeling better.

    But to answer your question, no, Hep B is a different virus from HIV and so it doesn’t cause HIV.

    What do the doctors say about your treatment? It’s important to talk to the doctors about your meds because some HIV meds are used to treat Hep B too. So if you’re taking tenofovir, FTC or 3TC as part of your HIV treatment it’s important to keep taking them.

    Do you have access to your latest CD4 count and viral load tests? What HIV meds are you taking now?

  2. Bruce

    I had hep b in 1989, I found out in 2017 I had a hiv.with 44 cd4 count.Do you think hep b caused my hiv

  3. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Sire,

    Please see here for infomation about CD4 and CD4:CD8 ratio. There really is no accurate way to know how long someone has been HIV positive.

    But what’s your viral load, this can tell you how well your ARVs are working. What ARVs are you taking?

  4. Sire

    hi

    If i have a CD4 count of 340
    CD4 Lymphocytes % – 25
    CD8 Lymphocytes – 722
    CD8 Lymphocytes % – 52
    CD4/ CD8 ratio – 0.47

    does this result tell when did I get infected and am I at risk now

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