Q and A

Question

How can I increase my CD4 count without ARVs?

I have just found out that I was HIV positive in March, last year. My CD4 count was 270.

I did another test and it was 284 and my doctor said I must start treatment.

I just want to know what I must do to increase my CD4 count without taking treatment.

Answer

The only way to increase your CD4 is to use HIV treatment (ART).

Your doctor is giving you good information and advice.

Nothing else, including multivitamins, supplements or herbal remedies can increase your CD4 count.

Even though some companies advertise this, these are scams. There is no such thing as an “immune booster” and no “immune booster” will help your CD4 count or help with HIV.

Why do you want to delay ART or look at other options? HIV meds are really effective – this is what they were designed for.

ART stops HIV from replicating.  The main aim is to reduce your viral load to an undetectable level (less than 50 copies/mL). As your viral load goes down, your immune system start to repair itself.  This means that your CD4 count will slowly go up to higher levels again.

Currently South Africa recommendation starting treatment when the CD4 count is below 500 cells/mm3. This may change in the future and treatment might be recommended at any CD4 count. (Note: South African later changed to recommends treatment at any CD4 count).

Here is a link to more information about starting treatment.  Please take your time reading it and if you have any further questions do write back to me.

Are you receiving any support from other people? Getting support from your local support group or a counsellor can help you to come to terms living with HIV. Also you will be able to gain and share experiences with others who are in the similar situation as you, rather than having to deal with it in isolation.

This answer was updated in January 2016 from a question first posted on 2 March 2012.


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.

485 comments

  1. Mash

    I’ve had a cough for 4 weeks, what can I do?

  2. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Mash,

    Coughs can be due to all sorts of things. If its causing you problems you should see a doctor.

  3. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Nandi,

    How are you coping with your diagnoses? Are you able to get any support?

    If your test has been confirmed as positive, then yes you can start treatment straight away. In fact people should be encouraged to begin meds as soon as they are diagnosed. And especially when in primary infection.

    For more about starting meds, please see here:

    http://i-base.info/guides/starting

  4. Nandi

    I last tested negative on the first of March 2017 until I met my boyfriend same month .Then I felt sick for 3 weeks on May 9 I went to check and it was positive.can I start ARVS while I’m one month positive?

  5. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Lindi,

    If your boyfriend has been on medication the whole time you’ve been sleeping with him, and if his viral load has always been undetectable, the risk of transmission is close to zero. For more about this, please see the results of the PARTNER study:

    http://i-base.info/qa-on-the-partner-study/

    What this means is that its very unlikely that you’ll have contracted HIV.

    If he hasn’t always been on medication then there is a risk that you may have contracted HIV. The only way to know is to test.

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