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CD4+ Count

How It Feels

You may feel nothing at all from the needle puncture, or you may feel a brief sting or pinch as the needle goes through the skin. Some people feel a stinging pain while the needle is in the vein. But many people do not feel any pain (or have only minor discomfort) after the needle is positioned in the vein. The amount of pain you feel depends on the skill of the health professional drawing the blood, the condition of your veins, and your sensitivity to pain.

Risks

There is very little risk of complications from having blood drawn from a vein.

  • You may develop a small bruise at the puncture site. You can reduce the risk of bruising by keeping pressure on the site for several minutes after the needle is withdrawn.
  • In rare cases, the vein may become inflamed after the blood sample is taken. This condition is called phlebitis and is usually treated with a warm compress applied several times daily.
  • Continued bleeding can be a problem for people with bleeding disorders. Aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), and other blood-thinning medicines can also make bleeding more likely. If you have bleeding or clotting problems, or if you take blood-thinning medicine, tell your health professional before your blood is drawn.

Results

A CD4+ count is a blood test to determine how well the immune system is working in people who have been diagnosed with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). CD4+ cell count results are generally available in 1 to 3 days, depending on the lab.

The normal values listed here—called a reference range—are just a guide. These ranges vary from lab to lab, and your lab may have a different range for what's normal. Your lab report should contain the range your lab uses. Also, your doctor will evaluate your results based on your health and other factors. This means that a value that falls outside the normal values listed here may still be normal for you or your lab.

Total CD4+ count
Normal:

CD4+ cell counts in people who are not infected with HIV usually range from 600 to 1,500 cells per microliter (mcL).1

Abnormal:

A CD4+ cell count greater than 350 but less than 500 cells/mcL means that the immune system is beginning to weaken.

A CD4+ cell count of fewer than 350 cells/mcL indicates a weak immune system and an increased risk for opportunistic infections.

A CD4+ cell count of fewer than 200 cells/mcL indicates acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and a high risk for opportunistic infections.

As the CD4+ count drops, it becomes more likely that acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) will develop.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 07, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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