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.

498 comments

  1. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Dee.

    When you start meds again your CD4 will begin to rise. If you’ve developed resistance they’ll be other ARVs that you can take. You do though need to talk to your doctor about this.

    Yes ARVs are for life. They are though excellent at controlling HIV.

  2. Dee

    I started ARVS in 2012,then I stoppig and didn’t know if u do they might not work is I just heard I should take them for the rest of my life, now I started to think I should take them this year, and researched more, I was o returned shock wen I found out that they might not work, and my CD4 is very low like low but not sick, now are there chances that it can increase? And not to default on treatment?

  3. Bathandwa

    I was tested 2010 positive. I’m not on meds. My CD4 is 1567. Do I need to start taking meds?

  4. Florence Atimango Lanek

    Very encouraging message, continue with the good spirit in order to save people’s live. Thank you. Florence.

  5. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Maloney,

    Can you please tell me what medication you’re taking for your HIV, your diabetes and your high bloody pressure. Also, is there any reason why you haven’t told your various doctors about your health conditions?

  6. Maloney

    I was diagnosed with hiv in 2010 and 2011 gave birth to a healthy baby boy but in 2016 was diagnosed with diabetes and now this year high blood pressure how can I cope with all this sickness in my body and worse I am having two different doctors but they don’t know about the other diseases

  7. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Rahul,

    Even if there has been a drop in his CD4, 380 is still OK. Your friends doctor maybe waiting to see why he reacted the way he did to his medication. Though frustrating its important that your friends doctor knows what your friend may react too. This can take some time. Info about chaining meds can be found here:

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

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