Understanding T-Cells and Why They’re Important

If you’re familiar with HIV, you know that t-cells play a huge role in health and wellness. Also known as CD4 cells, t-cells play an integral role in regulating the immune system.

What Are T-Cells?

We all know that blood is important – it delivers oxygen to the organs that keep us alive. But, blood is composed of both white and red blood cells, each of which have different jobs. T-cells are a certain type of white blood cell and their job is to find infections and fight them.

In case you’re wondering, they are known as T-cells because they are formed in the thymus or the tonsils, both of which start with the letter T!

Different Types of T-Cells

There are many different types of T-cells in your body, including:

  • Helper T-cells, also known as CD4 cells – assist in immunity
  • Cytotoxic T-cells – destroy cells infected by viruses and tumors
  • Memory T-cells – remember past infections
  • Regulatory T-cells, also known as suppressor T-cells – these maintain immunity over time

In order to fight infection, T-cells reproduce and attack an antigen. Unlike any other illness, HIV attacks these helper t-cells and binds to them, becoming part of their make-up. This means that while the t-cells reproduce to fight the HIV, they are creating more of the virus, causing a immunodeficiency.

Why T-Cells Matter

With a normal amount of T-cells, an individual can fight off infection and recover from illness easily. Because HIV attacks these cells and reduces their effectiveness, people living with HIV and low CD4 counts are more prone to developing illnesses. This is called an “opportunistic infection.”

The goal of HIV treatment is to control the virus. With antiretroviral therapy, medical checks, and medication adherence, people living with HIV can maintain high CD4 counts to avoid opportunistic infections. Truman Health Services provides a full range of medical services for people living with HIV, including pharmacy services to help you reach your treatment goals.

T-Cells and Feeling Healthy

Every person living with HIV has a different experience. Just because you feel healthy does not mean you are not in danger of developing an opportunistic infection. This is why it is important to have your T-cells monitored by a doctor that specializes in HIV.

Truman Health Services has doctors that choose to focus exclusively on HIV treatment. Our doctors understand the unique challenges of living with HIV and provide compassionate, personalized treatment options. Contact us today to set up an appointment.