Q and A

Question

Can other infection lower my CD4 count?

Please can you answer my question, can there be other infection or virus that can cause the drop in my CD4 count to 320 beside from HIV? I really needs to know.

Answer

If you have any form infection from either a virus, bacteria, fungal or parasite (from common cold to other opportunistic illness) then it mean that your immune system has been compromise and there will be a drop in your CD4 count. The level to which it drops also depends on how long you had the infection and how strong your immune system.

When someone is newly diagnosed with HIV, their viral load will goes up and their CD4 count will drop.  Your CD4 will increase after starting treatment, your immune system is often able to deal with these infections by itself again.  The normal range of CD4 count for someone who is HIV negative can be anywhere form 400 to 1600 and 2-3% of people are naturally higher or lower than this.  This is the reason why you need to have an antibody test, and not just viral load.


Information on this website is provided by treatment advocates and offered as a guide only. Decisions about your treatment should always be taken in consultation with your doctor.

8 comments

  1. Hi Leah,

    If you don’t get your viral load tested it’s a good idea to check your CD4 count again soon, once you are over your cold. Then you will be able to see if it really is decreasing or if this is just a reaction to this infection.

  2. My last Cd4 count was about 60 less than the results prior. So I was at 430 and now I’m at 370..but have been fighting a bad chest cold for a cple weeks and just had tests done a few days ago..so reading here looks like that’s why it went down.Was worried. I’m feeling better. the cold is better now so I’m hoping my Dr will want me to take new tests soon. I’ve never missed a day taking my antivirals just sometimes not on time..but I know I have to smarten up with taking better care of myself. :-/

  3. Hi Mpho,
    CD4 counts tests aren’t very accurate and it’s normal for there to be some variation when your CD4 count is quite high. As you saw when your CD4 count increased by about 200 counts the last time there can be big changes between two tests. It can be more reliable to look at your CD4 percentage, which generally stays more stable. Do you know if your clinic checks this percentage?

    Your CD4 count is still very good and shows that your immune system is still strong. It’s important to keep having it monitored to check for a trend and see if it goes over time, but one test result doesn’t really tell you very much.

    You said you have had unprotected sex with your boyfriend. Does he also have HIV? If he is HIV negative it’s important that you use condoms during sex but this shouldn’t have any affect on your CD4 count.

  4. Hi Rebecca I went for a cd4 count check last month,and the result came back *429* it has dropped by 223,I don’t know what could be the cause,I also had unprotected sex with my boyfriend,the doctor also complain about my blood saying I don’t have much blood,they took a very small amount of blood for a test,could this also be a cause for my cd4 count to drop?.thank you in advance.

  5. Hi Davina,
    It sounds like your friend is experiencing shingles which is caused by the herpes virus. It can be treated with antiviral meds – usually high dose acyclovir, or valaciclovir or famciclovir.

    People with HIV are more likely to get shingles than the general population. But this isn’t a good indication of whether his CD4 count has dropped or not. This would need to be checked with a CD4 test. Can I ask why he hasn’t had a test for 9 months? It’s important for him to be monitored closely while he is still off treatment. Vitamins and immune boosters do not treat HIV. If he hasn’t been back to the HIV doctor since his diagnosis it’s important that he does this. This can be difficult while people are still coming to terms with having HIV. Maybe this is something you can support him to do?

  6. I have a friend who’s cd4 count was 440 9 months ago. He hasnt had his cd4 checked since. He now has herpes zoster. His left palm has broken out wih blisters and his left side of his body is in very much pain. Is this a sign that his cd4 has droped or just something a person with hiv goes through? He found out 9 months ago that he contracted the virus. Do u think his cd4 has droped alot. He eats healthy, takes vitamins and some kind of immune booter. Please give me some answer as to what he should be doing? I am very concerned fro him.

  7. Your CD4 count is still very high – which is a good sign for your long term health. Your CD4 count might be a bit lower if you have other infections, but other than steroids, the medication should not reduce your CD4 count. If anything, antiviral drugs used to treat shingles like acyclovir also have a small impact on reducing HIV viral load, though not by much compared to ARVs. Often, doctors postpone blood counts for a couple of weeks if someone has a flu or cold.

  8. taking my case as an example, I had a CD4 count of 482 when I was diagnosed with HIV three months ago. I now came up with herpes zoster, probably as a consequence of a weakened immune system. Will this cause my CD4 count to drop faster and quicker than it would otherwise? Wil that happen every time i get a cold or fall sick or like in this case I get a virus? Also, would you suggest I better wait till a treatment is over before getting tested for CD4 count again? Would the figure be skewed by the fact i am under medication for something else?
    thanks in advance for your answer

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