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CD4, viral load & other tests

Selina Corkery, Keith Alcorn

This booklet provides information on tests you’ll have at your HIV clinic to monitor your health. Some of these tests are to see how HIV is affecting you or how well any treatment you are on is working. Other tests are to monitor your general health. You can expect to have some of these tests every time you have a check-up at your clinic. But other tests will only be undertaken if they are needed.

The information in this booklet isn’t intended to replace discussion with your doctor about your HIV treatment and care or test results. However, it may help you to decide what questions you’d like to ask your doctor about your treatment and care.

  • The importance of regular health monitoring

    The outlook has never been better for people with HIV in the UK. The right HIV treatment and care can mean that you have a good chance...

  • Types of HIV health monitoring

    During your regular check-ups at your HIV clinic, there are a number of ways you and your doctor can check your health. The most common are: Talking. It is...

  • Health monitoring and care from your GP

    Your HIV clinic will closely monitor all aspects of your health that are related to HIV. However, it’s also important to register with a GP (family doctor),...

  • Your first visit to an HIV clinic

    Your first appointment at a specialist HIV clinic after your diagnosis (or if you change clinic) will involve questions about your health and medical history, a physical...

  • Regular clinic appointments

    At each visit you’ll have tests to see how HIV is affecting you and to check on your general health. If you’re on HIV treatment, the tests...

  • Sexual health screening

    If you’re sexually active it’s important to have regular tests for sexually transmitted infections. These tests are available free of charge from specialist sexual health or genitourinary medicine...

  • Cervical and anal screening

    Infection with certain types of a common virus called human papillomavirus, or HPV, can cause cell changes in the cervix that can lead to cervical cancer. All HIV-positive...

  • Health monitoring during pregnancy

    If a woman has HIV, it is possible for it to be passed on to her baby during pregnancy or delivery or through breastfeeding. For this reason,...

  • Health monitoring in older age

    As we age, the risks of developing certain health problems increase. Some common conditions associated with being older (generally being over 50) include type 2 diabetes, heart disease...

  • Seeking medical advice between clinic appointments

    In between your regular clinic appointments, you may want to seek medical advice if you notice changes in your health or new symptoms. HIV clinics vary slightly...

  • Blood tests

    Some tests give a straightforward result, such as showing the presence of an infection. But others need to be looked at in combination with other aspects of...

  • CD4 cell counts

    CD4 cells (sometimes called T-cells, or helper cells) are white blood cells that organise your immune system’s response to infections. Your CD4 cell count is the measurement of...

  • Viral load

    Viral load is the term used to describe the amount of HIV in your blood. The more HIV there is in your blood (and therefore the higher...

  • Other blood tests

    Every time you visit your clinic for a check-up you’ll have some blood tests. As well as being used to monitor your CD4 cell count and viral...

  • Other tests

    Blood pressure is the force that the beating heart causes in the arteries, veins, and blood vessels that carry blood around the body. Blood pressure is measured...

  • Investigations

    If you have particular symptoms or are unwell, then your doctor might request additional tests to try and find out the cause. Some of the more common...

  • Summary

    Your CD4 cell count gives an indication of the health of your immune system.Monitoring your CD4 cell count can help you...

CD4, viral load & other tests

Published July 2012

Last reviewed July 2012

Next review July 2015

Contact NAM to find out more about the scientific research and information used to produce this booklet.

This content was checked for accuracy at the time it was written. It may have been superseded by more recent developments. NAM recommends checking whether this is the most current information when making decisions that may affect your health.