Q and A


What are the chances that CD4 could go up without treatment?

For somebody who was recently diagnosed, (and recently infected) but already has a CD4 count of 200 and viral load of 100,000, is it possible that the CD4 could still rise on its own?


Thank you for your question. But I am afraid that I need a bit more information from you in order to properly address your question.

A recent infection can mean anywhere from a few weeks to a year. Within that period of time there is a lot that can go on with your CD4 count as well as the viral load.

Usually, within a few weeks of the initial HIV infection, viral load shoots up (often into millions of copies/mL) and the CD4 count goes down. As the body fights the infection, it usually is able to bring the viral load comes back down. The CD4 count rebounds higher again, but not usually to quite as high as it was originally.

Over a long period of time (without treatment), the viral load will continue to climb but it depends on how fast or slow an individual is progressing. On the other hand, the CD4 count will also go down gradually.

Please get back to us if you need any clarification.


  1. Simon Collins

    Even if your friend has to start treatment within the first year or two after being infected, she should still get just as good a response from being on treatment,

    There may actually be benefits from starting treatment earlier, as this will bring her viral load down to undetectable levels. The long-term complications of HIV may be related to this period of detectable viral load when most people don;t use treatment for 5 or 6 years because their CD4 count is relatively strong.

    Your friend will need to use treatment carefully, and not miss doses, so that she does not develop drug resistance,

    The outlook is very good – and is supported by studies that estimate long life – 20, 30, 40 years etc. These are just estimates though based on keeping an undetectable viral load. Over this time we expect better treatments to be developed, and perhaps even a cure.

    It is better to focus on the short term things now though and supporting your friend through the next few weeks, months and year as she get used to this aspect of her life.

    No-one can really know how long they will live – too much is unpredictable.

    Live is a gift to enjoy. HIV treatment should mean that HIV willl hopefully not complicate it too much.

  2. Sarah

    The infection was no more than a year ago and she is in her 20’s, can she expect to leave to old age, bearing in mind that she may have to start treatment very soon? She will not have the benefit of the average 7 years of no treatment, before starting meds, that may only last 25 years (stated on tht website).

  3. Sarah

    Hi Winnie

    The infection has happened no more than a year ago (negative test 12 months before diagnosis). If it did in fact happen exactly a year before being diagnosed and the first baseline results are as above, what does that mean for when treatment may be started and life span for someone in their 20’s? Could CD4 go up on it’s own? So worried and scared.