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AIDS. 1991 Mar;5(3):283-8.

Correlation between CD4 cell counts and cellular and plasma viral load in HIV-1-seropositive individuals.

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Laennec HIV Study Group, Hôpital Laennec, Paris, France.


We conducted a study of 152 HIV-1-seropositive individuals in order to evaluate the possible correlations between the isolation of HIV from peripheral blood mononuclear cells or from plasma and CD4 cell counts. HIV was isolated from only 36% of plasma samples, and the isolation rate was closely related to CD4 cell counts, increasing gradually from 0% in subjects with greater than 800 x 10(6)/l CD4 cells to 88% in those with less than 100 x 10(6)/l CD4 cells. In contrast, HIV was isolated from 92% of cell samples (99% in subjects with less than 900 x 10(6)/l CD4 cells, 46% in those with CD4 counts greater than or equal to 900 x 10(6)/l). Since most cell samples were positive, a scoring method was designed to quantify the cellular viral load. The results obtained demonstrated that the cellular viral load was closely related to CD4 counts. We also found that the cellular viral load was higher in subjects with either positive plasma isolation or positive p24 antigenaemia. The measurement of the cellular viral load by this scoring method appears to be useful for the management of HIV-seropositive individuals and for the evaluation of therapeutic trials.

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