n Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine - The role of the laboratory in HIV management : investigations

Volume 1, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1608-9693
  • E-ISSN: 2078-6751



There is no doubt that the laboratory plays a critical and integral role in the management of HIV-positive patients on antiretroviral therapy (ART). Apart from routine confirmation of the initial diagnosis, viral load measurement and CD4+ lymphocyte count measurements are now available which are essential for deciding when to initiate the therapy as well as for ART monitoring. CD4+ counts have enabled clinicians to ascertain the cumulative damage done to the immune system by HIV infection and the restoration of immunity in patients on effective therapy. Viral load measurements have in turn made it possible to predict time to progression to AIDS as well as how effective the ART is according to undetectable levels. The recently published 'Guidelines for antiretroviral therapy in adults' by the Southern African HIV/AIDS Clinicians Society clearly outline when to undertake viral load, and CD4+ cell count measurements.

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