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Blood chemistry tests for HIV

for Veterans and the Public

Blood chemistry tests

Chemistry tests examine the levels of different elements and waste products in the blood and help determine how well different organs are functioning. Usually, the tests are divided into two panels:

  • Electrolyte tests (sometimes called "lytes") and kidney function--These tests help measure how well your kidneys are working, and measure the balance of fluids, acids, and sugar in your body. They include tests for sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), creatinine, and glucose.
  • Liver function tests (LFTs)--These tests measure whether your liver is being damaged. (Things that can damage the liver are viral hepatitis, alcohol, medications, and street drugs.) These tests measure alkaline phosphatase, ALT, AST, albumin, and bilirubin. It is important to have a baseline measure of your liver health, because you may need to take HIV medications in the future, and some of these medications can cause liver damage.

Blood chemistry tests are usually done a couple of times a year.