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.

1,020 comments

  1. Josh Peasegood

    Hi Zama, do know the names of the medications you have been taking? Were you taking 2 different drugs to the single tablet you are taking now? Have you been offered a second test to confirm your results? As you have been undetectable recently, these changes in your results need to be addressed. Have you had a conversation with your doctor about them? Do you know what your previous CD4 count tests have been?

  2. ZAMA

    Good afternoon Doctor

    i found out that im HIV positive in 2018 then i stated taking my ART 2020 i did 6month test i was undictated at that time i was taking 2 pills a day then my physician advise me to take one pill a day, last month i did blood test today i get the result that my cd 4 count is very low 200 and my vl is 19250 and im still taking one pill …. please advise what i can do im confused cos i was also taking Zynzic suppliments

  3. Josh Peasegood

    Hi Sboniso, do you mean you have kidney failure? If you do this needs to be managed by a doctor. I-base are treatment advocates, we are not trained doctors and cannot provide medical advise.

  4. Sboniso

    I have a problem with my kingn failure what can I do with that

  5. Josh Peasegood

    Hi Chris, I am sorry to hear that your wife was recently diagnosed. How is she coping? It is great that she has started with ART. ART is the only way for CD4 count to recover. ART suppresses HIV which stops it destroying CD4 cells. The body can then naturally replace the CD4 cells and your wife’s immune system can recover. Unfortunately this is a slow process and apart from adhering to ART, there is nothing else that can speed up this process.

    Is your wife taking any other medication? Usually when a CD4 count is below 200 people will be given a drug called co-trimoxazole. This is an antibiotic that is used to prevent other infections that your wife might be at risk of. This is used while your wife’s immune system is still weak and will help keep her healthy and protected.

  6. chris

    hello, bless day. my wife just dianose with these hiv.sept 2022 her cd4 is 103., is there any possible way to increase it much faster. she taken arv montj ago now. shes weak and dramatically weight loss. is she can be come back to normal again. please answer me..

  7. Josh Peasegood

    Hi Elijah, did your doctor give you any other reason for why your pills were stopped? Treatment should start immediately for HIV after testing positive. Were you given any other pills? People are usually given a medication called co-trimoxazole when their CD4 count is below 200. This is used to prevent further infections.

    How is your doctor managing your fever?

  8. Elijah

    I am 22 years old and got diagnosed with AIDS. CD4 count at 32, with 50k VL. I have underwent all the tests for co-infection but all are negative, except for a recurring fever with chills and stomach ache.I started ARV 3 days backs but it was stopped by the Dr due to the fever. What are the chances of my recovery?

  9. Josh Peasegood

    Hi Martha, has your client spoken about why she is forgetting to take her medication? Have you made any suggestions on how to remember to take that them that have not worked?

    Your client could set an alarm specific for her medication. Have this as a daily reminder that when she hears the alarm, it reminds her to take her pills. Or if it is more a matter of routine she could use a dosett box. This is a pill box that has the weeks medication in and is usually labelled for each day. She could use this and build it into a routine e.g., brush teeth and then take her pills?

  10. Martha

    Hi doctor,
    I have a client that normally fails to take her medications on time….
    I’ve tried advicing, councelling but apparently she keeps on forgetting to take…
    What should I do to improve her life because she’s still young….

Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *