Q and A


I am just diagnosed with a CD4 count of 10?

I’ve recently tested HIV+ and unfortunately my CD4 count came out at 10. I am not ill, but do i have the chance to live any longer.



As well as being HIV positive, your CD4 count is very low. Unless you were only infected very recently, this means your HIV is very advanced.

Using ARV treatment (ART) as soon as possible is important. ART will reduce the serious risk of HIV-related health complications.

The medicines will still work for you. There are many reasons to be hopeful and optimistic.

Because your CD4 count is uder 50 there is also a chance that other infections (called IRIS) might become active during the first few months of treatment. These are usuallly easy to treat, but tell your doctor about any new symptoms over the next months.

Also, please be very careful not to miss any doses of your meds. This is called good adherence.

Your doctor should also give you antibiotics to protect you from other infections. This is usually cotrimoxazole (often also called Septrin or Bactrim) which is a combination of  trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole. This treatment should continue until your CD4 count gets much higher (at least above 200, maybe above 350).

While your CD4 count is still below 50, including now, your doctor should also examine your eyes. This is to check whether a viral infection called CMV is affecting your eyes. CMV can cause serious and permanent vision loss.

For more information see this guide to starting treatment, called Introduction to ART.

If you were not expecting to be HIV positive, this will take a while for the news to sink in. It will get easier – and hopefully you will get a good response from treatment.

These two links might help:

Just diagnosed:

Who can I talk to:

Note: This answer was updated in December 2016 from a question first posted on 13 September 2011.


  1. Josh Peasegood

    Hi Norma, it is good that your CD4 count has risen and that your viral load is now undetectable. Unlike viral load which changes rapidly after treatment, CD4 count recovery is a slow process and takes time.

    It is slower when starting from a lower count. As your CD4 count was 116 it will recover slower than someone who starts at 300. A rise of 30 over a year may be seen as slow but it is good process and it should increase faster over time.

    While your CD4 count is low are you also on an antibiotic called co-trimoxazle? This is used to prevent further infections as your CD4 count recovers.

  2. Norma

    Sir/ madam

    My initial cd4 count was 116 and after a year of taking arvs it has risen to 149. I am.concerned, why has it risen so little? I am now undetectable

  3. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Lala,

    i-base advocates aren’t medical doctors so I can’t comment on the spots that I have. You’ll need to talk to a doctor about this. Once you start medication your viral load will decrease and your CD4 count will rise. Please see here for more info: http://i-base.info/guides/side


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