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.

513 comments

  1. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Tau,

    If you’ve been having sex without a condom before you were diagnosed, your wife may also have HIV. Therefore, for the sake of her own health she will need to test. Yes this might be a hard thing to talk to her about. However, if she is also positive she’ll need to be on meds.

  2. tau

    I found that I’m HIV positive 3weeks ago so I don’t want to tell my wife, and we never use condom since we meet, but I never sleep with her since I found that Im positive, how can I have sex with her without passing this virus

  3. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Nonkululeko,

    The guidelines from the World Health Organisation are that everyone should be on ARVs. This is even people who have high CD4s. Therefore, if you’re ready then you should start. Being on meds also helps prevent transmission.

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