to Viral Load
The target of the HIV-1 virus is a white blood cell called a CD4 cell. These
blood cells are important because they tell other infection-fighting cells
when to start working. HIV-1 infection lowers the number of CD4 cells (the CD4
count). When the number of CD4 cells drops to a certain level, the body’s
immune system weakens. When the CD4 count drops below 200, or when
opportunistic infections or cancers occur, a person with HIV-1 infection is
said to have AIDS (Acquired ImmunoDeficiency Syndrome).
To assess the status of an individual’s HIV-1 infection, two laboratory
markers are essential: CD4 count and HIV-1 viral load. This section of the
site will explain in detail the role of HIV-1 viral load.