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.

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