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. Looking after yourself is important – for example, eating a balanced diet, keeping physically and mentally active, reducing stress, sleeping well etc.  But increasing your CD4 count is only proven by using effective HIV meds.

Even though some companies advertise this vitamins and supplements can help your CD4 count, these are scams. There is no such thing as an “immune booster” and no “immune booster” will help your CD4 count or help control 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 2019 and January 2016 from a question first posted on 2 March 2012.

910 comments

  1. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Faye,

    Please talk to your doctor if you’re planning to take herbs or supplements.

    Some herbs can interact with some ARVs. This means that you might not get the correct dose of your ARVs. And they might not work as well as they should.

    And here’s the guide to a balanced diet and your health. There are some great tips in this for how to get the best from a regular diet.

  2. Faye

    Hi
    Pheliswa I’m on treatment of ARVs and start using herbalife concentrate drink and Thermo,my VL is LDL and my CD4 is 289,I’m not gonna having problem?

  3. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Elise,

    i-base are based in the UK so you will need to contact the following org: https://www.tac.org.za/ You could try going to a clinic and explaining to them what’s happened, they might be able to help. If there are issues, when will you be able to go home?

  4. Elsie

    What do i do when I forgot my hiv medication at another province? I don’t want to default, please help

  5. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Paul,

    Are you in East London, South Africa? We are based in the UK. I’m sorry that you’ve got a short interruption in treatment.

    Was your viral load undetectable when you were taking your ARVs? Just a very short interruption could be okay. But you can ask for a new viral load test when you collect the new meds. This is to make sure you’re still undetectable.

    Please contact the Treatment Action Campaign at this contact link. They can help with local support.

  6. paul

    Hi

    My name is paul from east London am on ARVs but i skipped my date for collecting pills so today i went to the falcuty to take my meds, i should return next week they dnt have pills so i wanna know wat will happen with my cd4

  7. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Lukas,

    Thanks, please ask a question about HIV treatment here http://i-base.info/qa/

  8. lukas

    Hi everyone
    Hope i can get help from you guys need some information about HIV.

  9. Lisa Thorley

    Hi Simion,

    At the moment there isn’t a vaccine nor a cure for Corona/Covid 19, so no ARVs won’t help. This noted there are some studies that have and are looking at using ARVs.

  10. Simion

    Can arvs kill corona?

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