The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) attacks a type of immune system cell called the T-helper cell. The T-helper cell plays an essential part in the immune system by helping to co-ordinate all the other cells to fight illnesses. A major reduction in the number of T-helper cells can have a serious effect on the immune system.
A CD4 test measures the number of T-helper cells (in a cubic millimetre of blood) which is known as a CD4 count. Someone who is not infected with HIV normally has between 500 and 1200 cells/mm3. In a person infected with HIV, the CD4 count often declines over a number of years. A CD4 test is used to determine when a person should start ARV treatment.
Normally the Paballong Centre sends blood samples to Maseru for testing in the government-funded testing sites. However, occasionally these testing facilities are not operational, so a machine at the Centre will enable the health professionals to conduct their own testing on-site.
The Netherlands Paballong Trust and the Paballong UK Trust have co-funded the supply of a CD4 machine to the Centre, as well as a year’s supply of reagents.