Courtesy of Timothy Shacker
 COLLAGEN COUNTS: (A) A modified trichrome stain on lymphatic tissue from an HIV- patient. Stained tissue from an HIV+ patient (B) shows a relatively intact peripheral CD4+ count with collagen at 2.2%, compared with a patient with advanced HIV-1 (C) with collagen at 18.6%. (J Clin Invest, 10:1133-9, 2002)

Because HIV preferentially targets CD4+ T cells, their numbers, along with other metrics like HIV RNA levels, traditionally are used to indicate the infection's severity. Moreover, clinicians use these numbers to predict the efficacy of future immunological reconstitution treatment in first-time patients undergoing antiretroviral therapy.

But a recent finding shows that highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) failed to markedly increase the peripheral CD4+ count in 25% of patients, despite sometimes being able to reduce HIV RNA in the blood to undetectable levels. This finding has brought into question the utility of these factors as...

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