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.

536 comments

  1. Joe

    Hello I am HIV positive too first time I found my blood positive CD163 and viral load 100.000 it’s was terrible to know this. But I take medicine and feel better CD4 go up 250 . For 3years that I have taken medicine ,my CD4 568 now. Viral load undetectable less than 40. Don’t be sad . HIV it’s just a virus stay inside ur blood u need to stay positive ,happy . First time I known I have HIV I feel so shock and sad .now I learn about HIV more and stay with them with my healthy body .

  2. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Delisia,

    Its not possible to tell how long someone has been positive from their CD4 count. To know when you contracted HIV you’ll need to think about when you had risky sex. This may help you to know when you became infected.

  3. Delisia

    I just got tested and my cd4 counts are 115 can the doctors not tell u how long have u been affected

  4. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Jimmy,

    Its very common that it can take time for a persons CD4 count to rise, especially when someone starts with a very low CD4 count. Given that you’ve only been on meds for 9 months, you’re doing really well. With regards to when will your CD4 reach 500. It isn’t possible to say.

  5. Jimmy

    My cd4 count last Jan.2017 was 6 and I started treatment, this month September2017 my cd4 count is 92, my question is: is this acceleration of cd4 slow or just normal, how long does my cd4 reach 500, nway im taking ART as prescribed..
    Please answer..God Bless

  6. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Anita,

    I’d go and have a CD4 and viral check up and also start ARVs. No God can heal HIV.

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