Once you've tested positive and found the right doctor, be sure to make
and keep regular appointments—usually every three months if you’re on
meds. At each visit, your doctor will want to take a small amount of
blood and run it through some tests.
First, a word of warning:
Don't obsess over the numbers. A lab result does not predict your
entire physical well-being, nor should it be allowed to.
Here are four lab tests to get right away—and a few more to ask your doctor about:
RECOMMENDED EVERY 3-6 MONTHS CD4 count
CD4 cells (a.k.a. T cells) are the cells in your body that HIV attacks.
Your CD4 count is a good indicator of how much HIV has hurt your immune
system; the higher the number, the better. This test, along with the
viral load test (see below), will help you and your doctor decide if
you should start taking HIV meds.
viral load This
test measures how much HIV is in your blood; the less, the better.
“Undetectable,” meaning too little for the test to find, is best.
complete blood count This counts your red and white blood cells and platelets to check for anemia or bleeding disorders.
Major organs, muscles and bones come under scrutiny with this
group of tests, with a focus on signs of liver damage and cholesterol
ALSO ASK YOUR DOCTOR ABOUT TESTS FOR THESE sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
Chronic hepatitis B or C, gonorrhea, syphilis and other bugs can cause
your HIV to flare up. Some STDs also increase the risk of passing the
hormones Fatigue, depression and other HIV-related symptoms may be aggravated by hormonal problems.
drug resistance These help measure resistance that HIVers may have built up against one HIV med or another—rookies don't usually need them. But in any case, wait till you're ready to start treatment.