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OBJECTIVE: To describe the relationship between absolute CD4 count and CD4%, and the influence on this of gender, risk group, age, a diagnosis of AIDS, use of zidovudine (ZDV) therapy and PCP prophylaxis. METHODS: 9203 paired serial measurements of CD4 count and CD4% on 1017 initially AIDS-free and ZDV-naive HIV positive patients from a London-based cohort were available for analysis. Multi-level regression procedures were used on log-transformed data to relate values of CD4 count to a given level of CD4%. We estimated the effect of selected covariates on this relationship from the exponent of the covariate coefficient. RESULTS: A strong linear relationship was found between log CD4 and log CD4%, CD4 = e 1.78(CD4%)1.26 or 5.93 (CD4%)1.26 (excluding covariates). Based on this model, a CD4% of 5%, 15%, and 30% corresponded to an estimated CD4 count (95% confidence interval [CI]) of 45 cells/mm3 (17-117 cells/mm3), 182 cells/mm3 (64-499 cells/mm3) and 438 cells/mm3 (132-1395 cells/mm3), respectively. However, after adjustment for selected covariates, the predicted CD4 count for a given CD4% was found to be lower among heterosexuals and injecting drug users as compared with homosexual men by 30% and 17% respectively; following an AIDS diagnosis by 21%; and after initiation of ZDV therapy and PCP prophylaxis by 19% and 10%, respectively. CONCLUSION: This analysis should be useful to clinicians and researchers in relating values of CD4 count to CD4%, although we have demonstrated that this is not a simple relationship. The wide CI observed in the estimated CD4 count particularly at high CD4% values, and the adjustments necessary according to risk group, following an AIDS diagnosis and use of ZDV and PCP therapy limit its application in the clinical setting.

Original publication




Journal article


Int J Epidemiol

Publication Date





1367 - 1372


Adolescent, Adult, Age Factors, Aged, Anti-HIV Agents, CD4 Lymphocyte Count, CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes, Female, HIV Infections, Humans, Lymphocyte Count, Male, Middle Aged, Risk Factors, Sex Factors, United Kingdom, Zidovudine