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

Hi, how are you doing?

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.

579 comments

  1. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Khosi,

    It’s great that you’ve started treatment and that viral load is below 50. This means that HIV is undetectable. And being undetectable means that HIV cannot be transmitted. See here for more info.

    When you start treatment your viral load goes down quickly. But the CD4 count takes a bit longer to go up. Being undetectable is the way to incease your CD4 count.

  2. khosi

    hi I tested positive on Dec 2017 and started treatment right away i have Been having unprotected sex with my boyfriend and I told him to go and tested he tested neg so I recently received my blood test results with a viral load of 35 to 50ml and a cd4 count of 165 my question is there possibility that my boyfriend didn’t catch the virus? and what can I do or eat to increase my cd4 count

  3. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Travis,

    If your friend is on medication and his viral load is undetectable, then yes its true, he won’t be able to transmit HIV to you or anyone else through sexual intercourse. Please see the following for more info:

    http://i-base.info/htb/32308

  4. Travis

    My best friend has HIV positive in them but he says he takes meds and pills that help him. now he says if you were to have sex with someone without a condom there’s no way to transmit the infection. is this true? or should i be taking precautionary steps?

  5. Simon Collins

    Hi Tony, without knowing your approximate CD4 count it is difficult to comment. If this is very low (less than 200) then it is more likely that another infection might be involved. If it is very high (over 500) then you might just have a cold, and this is unrelated to HIV.

  6. tony

    I found out am HIV positive dis year November ad HV been receiving treatment but at times i catch cold ad at times heat ad i also find out am lossing weight

  7. Simon Collins

    Hi Zimasa, how are you doing? Are you in touch with other HIV support groups in your area?. Although finding out you are positive is never ideal, it is much better to find out earlier than later. Modern HIV treatment (ART) means you can still lead a full and long life, doing everything that you planned before. i-Base is an information project and the following few links might be a good place to start to learn about your health.
    http://i-base.info/just-found-out
    http://i-base.info/who-can-i-talk-to
    http://i-base.info/what-other-tests-do-i-need
    http://i-base.info/guides/starting ART

  8. Zimasa

    Will u pliz help with support I’m freshly diagnosed positive

  9. Simon Collins

    Hi there – it is much better to know for sure – really. Please go back for the reults so you can get the best monitoing and treatment if it does turn out you are positive. If yes, we can help with more information and support.

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