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Being Alive

ICA9 Report: The Natural History of HIV


Being Alive 1993 Jul 5: 5

We now have data on people who have been infected with HIV as long as 13.8 years. Of this San Francisco group of long term survivors, 68% have been diagnosed with AIDS, using the pre-1993 definition. This leaves 32%, or one-third, still undiagnosed. Many of these survivors are asymptomatic, with little drop in CD4 level. Researchers continue to point to the genetic makeup of these survivors as the key factor in their continued health.

There were reports at this year's conference on the quality of T-cell functioning. This may be an important factor in maintaining health. In the past, we just looked at the numbers. A study from San Antonio and another from Amsterdam reported on people whose T-cell numbers were low. Those whose T-cells were functioning well, however, were less likely to be experiencing HIV progression.

These studies point up the need for readily available T-cell function assays that will allow us to regularly review the level of CD4 function. Right now, all we can do is count. But, it is increasingly clear that quality, as well as quantity, of T-cells is important as a gauge of HIV disease progression. 


Information in this article was accurate in July 5, 1993. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.