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.

986 comments

  1. Simon Collins

    Hi Georgina.

    Please see this link for why this sounds good:
    https://i-base.info/qa/19689

    It sounds like you have been changed to newer meds that should be better. Your doctor is wrong not to have told you about this.

  2. Georgina

    I’m hiv positive used to drink my medication in the evening but they’ve changed me to drink then in the morning… what could be the reason should I be worry

  3. Simon Collins

    Hi Janani, thanks. Even if someone only finds out late that they are HIV positive, the ART meds can still work really well.

    Even a very low CD4 count can become much stronger again, to live a healthy life. And 64 is not so old.

    Many people who are much older have been living well on ART for many years.

  4. Janani

    Can someone increase cd4 counts at the age 64. She was late to know and just found out about being HIV positive. And it’s in late stage I think, but is taking ART medicine from yesterday.

  5. Josh Peasegood

    Hi Mpho, have you spoken to a doctor about these lipomas and breast nodules? ARVs do not cause these effects and this will need addressing by a healthcare professional.

    What side effects from ARVs did you experience? both the breast nodules you have mentioned and Bell’s palsy are not caused by ARVs.

    It is good to hear that both your CD4 count and viral load are within healthy ranges. How often are you having these checked? and what supplements have you been taking? Aside from ARVs is no evidence to prove that any other treatment/supplement is effective at suppressing viral load and maintaining a healthy CD4 count.

  6. Mpho

    Hi
    I was diagnosed with Hiv 24 years back and my husband,i was pregnant and my baby came out negative till today,i started developing lipomas and breast nodules,moon shape and decided to stop them,i have been away from Arv’s for three years now,taking only supplements and have been doing well,my viral load was undetectable and cd4 count at1700,now i developed bell’s Parsley left side and it is treated,is it because of hiv and viral load.and i dont want to take Arv’s due to site effects.

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