CD4 counts
CD4 counts and viral loads are the main tests used by your doctor to monitor your HIV and how it is affecting your immune system. As well as these tests, there are other regular blood tests that your doctor will perform to monitor your general health and the effect of HIV or HIV treatment on your body. The most common tests used are:

Full blood count
A full blood count (FBC) is used to check for any potential blood disorders that can be caused by HIV or by anti-HIV drugs. The FBC tests for:

  • Signs of anaemia, which can be caused by some anti-HIV drugs, or by HIV itself
  • The number of red blood cells in your blood, which tells you the oxygen carrying capacity of your blood
  • The number and different types of all white blood cells, not just CD4 cells, in your blood. Too few white blood cells can mean that you are at greater risk of certain bacterial and fungal infections
  • The number of platelets, which are small blood cells responsible for blood clotting

Liver function tests
Some anti-HIV drugs can cause liver problems, and so these tests checks to see if your liver is functioning normally. If you have hepatitis B or C as well as HIV, your doctor will use this test to monitor the performance of your liver very closely.

Metabolic tests
These tests check the levels of cholesterol, blood sugars, glucose and triglycerides in your blood. Levels of cholesterol, sugars and triglycerides in your blood can be affected by anti-HIV drugs so if you are on treatment, it is particularly important to have regular metabolic tests.

Kidney function tests
Some anti-HIV drugs can cause kidney problems, and so these tests are used to see how well your kidneys are functioning, and to check for any other conditions that show up through kidney function testing.

This close monitoring every time you go for a regular check-up at your clinic ensures that if any problems do occur they will be spotted and addressed at an early stage.