Q and A

Question

I am worried about a low CD4 and fewer tests in the Philippines?

Hi – I’ve been on my ART for two years. My First CD4 count was 28 (in Dec 2015 and my second count was 136 (in Dec 2016). Now it is 151 (Nov 2017) and undectable VL less than which is 34 copies/mL.

It is very difficult to get these kind of tests (VL and CD4) in the Philippines because they are too expensive and we are in a poor country

My doctor told me that my cd4 count will be difficult to rise because I started ART at my low cd4 count – although she told me everything is under control since I’m undectable with my VL.

However, i recently feel depressed and weak and ill feelings, am I getting opportunistic infections now or cancers.

Am I gonna die soon?

Answer

Hi

Thanks for writing – and I apologise that this took longer than usual to reply.

Also, your email has lots of really good news.

Firstly, your CD4 increases are really good. It usually takes time to get to higher levels if you start with a low CD4 count that is less than 50 cells/mm3. Your response so far has being very good. Also, it is very likely to continue to increase over the next few years, even though the pace might be slow.

Already you are well above 100 and well on the way to 200, which will protect you again most HIV-related problems.

Secondly, because your viral load is undetectable, it shows your meds are working well and that they will keep working into the future.

Although access to tests is more limited, so long as you keep taking these meds, viral load will stay undetectable. In the UK these test are used less often once someone has an undetectable viral load.

Also, as a guide, I started treatment with a CD4 count that was lower than yours – and that was over twenty years ago :)

The meds you are taking now are much better than the ones I started with so there are lots of reasons to be optimistic in planning for a long and happy future.

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