• Leukopenia or thrombocytopenia is a lack of white blood cells or platelets
  • There are several causes for leukopenia or thrombocytopenia
  • If there is no good explanation, an undiscovered HIV infection could be the cause




In leukopenia, someone has too few white blood cells that work properly. White blood cells are necessary for the defense against infections. If you have too few white blood cells, you are more prone to infections.
In a thrombocytopenia, someone has too few well-functioning blood platelets. These platelets are necessary for blood clotting. If you have too few platelets, your blood cannot clot properly. This clotting is needed in the event of an injury.


Symptoms that can be associated with a leukopenia are: many infections and complaints that can be associated with infections like fever, coughing up mucus or pain when urinating.
Complaints that are associated with a shortage of platelets are prolonged or spontaneous bleeding and frequently bruising, without bumping.


A lack of white blood cells can have many different reasons. Such as chemotherapy, malnutrition and a number of diseases, such as leukemia.
A lack of platelets can also be caused by chemotherapy and certain diseases such as leukemia. In addition, it can also be caused by the use of certain medication or excessive alcohol consumption.

If no cause for the leukopenia or thrombocytopenia is found, we call it unexplained.

HIV and unexplained leukopenia or thrombocytopenia

Unexplained leukopenia or thrombocytopenia can be symptoms of an HIV infection. We only call a leukopenia or thrombocytopenia unexplained if no explanation can been found by other research into more common causes (such as malnutrition or alcohol use).
HIV indicator conditions are conditions or symptoms that occur more often in people with an underlying HIV infection than in people without an HIV infection. Leukopenia and thrombocytopenia are some of the HIV indicator conditions. If you have or have had leukopenia or thrombocytopenia and have not been tested for HIV, it is advisable to ask your doctor or general practitioner for an HIV test. Find it difficult to ask for an HIV test? You may download a call card that will help you formulate your question.