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CD4 Cell—— Primary Target of HIV
AIDS is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus. HIV itself will not cause any diseases. What is the most dreadful with HIV is that it attacks CD4 cells (See Figure 1), the Commander in Chief of human's immune system, and causes a progressive decline in CD4 cell number. The fast depletion of CD4 counts will cause a reverse of CD4/CD8 ratio, gradually reducing the effectiveness of the immune system and leaving individuals susceptible to opportunistic infections and eventually died of other HIV-related complications.
HIV attacks CD4 cells
HIV-AIDS is not that dreadful! Measuring CD4 count is essential!
With the development of new medications and treatments, especially since the invention of "Cocktail Therapy", HIV/AIDS is no longer "incurable" and has become a chronic illness like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, etc, and people infected with HIV can now live a longer life. Just like hepatitis B carriers, people infected with HIV can live harmoniously with the virus and lead a normal life.
World Health Organization suggests that HIV infected persons shall have their CD4 level measured every 3 months or at least twice a year. Periodic monitoring of CD4 levels is the most important means to determine when to initiate anti-retroviral therapy. According to public health guidelines, preventive therapy should commence when an HIV-positive person, who has no symptoms, registers a low CD4 count so as to avoid further deterioration.
Therefore, in HIV ( Human Immunodeficiency Virus) infection, the CD4 count is useful in defining disease state and identifying patients at risk for opportunistic infections. It remains the most important key indicator for initiation and monitoring of ART (Anti-retroviral Therapy) and a measure of the effectiveness of the treatment.