Guidelines for the Use of Antiretroviral Agents in Adults and Adolescents with HIV

The information in the brief version is excerpted directly from the full-text guidelines. The brief version is a compilation of the tables and boxed recommendations.

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Laboratory Testing

Laboratory Testing for Initial Assessment and Monitoring of Patients with HIV Receiving Antiretroviral Therapy

Last Updated: December 18, 2019; Last Reviewed: December 18, 2019

Several laboratory tests are important for initial evaluation of people with HIV upon entry into care, and some tests should be performed before and after initiation or modification of antiretroviral therapy (ART) to assess the virologic and immunologic efficacy of ART and to monitor for laboratory abnormalities that may be associated with antiretroviral (ARV) drugs. Table 3 outlines recommendations on the frequency of testing from the Panel on Antiretroviral Guidelines for Adults and Adolescents. As noted in the table, some tests may be repeated more frequently if clinically indicated.

Two surrogate markers are used to monitor people with HIV: plasma HIV RNA (viral load) to assess level of HIV viremia and CD4 T lymphocyte cell count to assess immune function. Standard (reverse transcriptase and protease) genotypic resistance testing should be used to guide selection of an ARV regimen; if transmitted integrase strand transfer inhibitor resistance is a concern, testing should also include the integrase gene (see Drug-Resistance Testing). For guidance on ART regimens to use when resistance testing results are unavailable, clinicians should consult What to Start. A viral tropism assay should be performed before initiation of a CCR5 antagonist or at the time of virologic failure that occurs while a patient is receiving a CCR5 antagonist. HLA-B*5701 testing should be performed before initiation of abacavir (ABC). Patients should be screened for hepatitis B and hepatitis C virus infection before initiating ART and, if indicated, periodically after ART initiation, as treatment of these coinfections may affect the choice of ART and likelihood of drug-induced hepatotoxicity. The rationale for and utility of some of these laboratory tests are discussed in the corresponding sections of the guidelines.


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  2. Panel on Opportunistic Infections in Adults and Adolescents with HIV. Guidelines for the prevention and treatment of opportunistic infections in adults and adolescents with HIV: recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and the HIV Medicine Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. 2019. Available at:
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