Q and A


Will my joint pain improve with treatment?

I’m HIV positive with a CD4 of 204 and undetectable VL my problem is I’m struggling with my joints now, I can’t even walk properly. It is paining. I’ve tried all the arthritis medications you can think of and it is not helping. This started before I took my ARVs and doctor told me the minute I start ARVs I will be much better. I’m taking tribuss.



Thank-you for your question.

Joint pain is common in people with HIV, and can have many causes. HIV can cause a variety of conditions which could cause joint pain. These include peripheral neuropathy, arthritis and various rheumatic problems. These are more common at lower CD4 counts. Could you tell me what your CD4 count was when you were diagnosed?

If your joint pain is related to HIV it may improve while on treatment. This will not be instant and may take some time. How long have you been on treatment?

If your pain doesn’t improve it’s important to get a diagnosis. If the joint pain needs separate treatment it is important to know the cause. Your doctor may refer you to a rheumatologist – a doctor who deals with joint problems.

Your doctor should be able to prescribe pain relief. Pain killers which reduce inflammation – like ibuprofen- may also help.


  1. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Anonymous,

    Testing HIV positive can be a shock for most of us. And it can take a while for the news to sink in. So it’s understandable that you were not ready to start ARVs last November.

    However, now that you’re ready, it’s a good idea to to go back to the clinic and say you’re keen to start HIV treatment (ART).

    Please see this Q&A about just finding out you’re HIV positive. It might help you explain to the clinic why you didn’t want to start ART.

    Please see this Introduction to ART for lots more info about starting treatment.

  2. Anonymous

    Hi I was diagnosed HIV positive last year November. they gave me ARVs but because I was not ready I never start to drink medication, I took them back to the clinic now I feel that I’m ready to take treatment but I’m afraid of going back and start treatment, pls advise what must I do.

  3. Roy Trevelion

    Hi King,
    A stable undetectable viral load is one that is undetectable for several months. That is up to 6 months on while on HIV treatment (ART).

  4. king

    What do you mean by stable?

  5. Roy Trevelion

    Hi King,
    Unfortunately, we are not doctors at i-Base. So, as I said, it’s a good idea to see the doctor about your symptoms to find out what’s causing them. You can have another HIV test 12 weeks after you had sex to confirm your negative result.
    Your partner’s viral load determines how well the drugs are working. When they are working well, CD4 counts can recover to normal.

  6. king

    She as not check her viral load but she is taking her drugs. What her doctor said is that her cd count is normal. But she as done other test and it cool wht she is waiting for is her viral load they said let her come back in 2weeks time. The question is am having off and on pains I have treated malaria and typoid. Is 26days I had sex with her have been checking my hiv is on 15th of last month till now. But it saying negative.
    Is it cd count that determines if the drugs is working or not?

  7. Roy Trevelion

    Hi King,
    If your partner is taking HIV meds and her viral load is stable and undetectable then the risk to you is zero. If you have symptoms like these you should see the doctor to find out what’s causing them.

  8. king

    Hi! I had sex with an hiv positive and she as check are cd count is normal can she still infect me? But dis days am having serious ulcer and body inching am not having sort throat but I feel like something is moving in my throat. And I have check my hiv status am negative and dis is just 25 days we had sex and I did not last long when having sex with her. Pls tell me am I infected

  9. Roy Trevelion

    Hi Sphiwe,

    Do you go to the clinic with your daughter? If not, you can ask her to talk to the doctor about her symptoms. Modern ARVs are not linked fat and weight loss. However, it’s a good idea to check her CD4 and viral load results to make sure the ARVs are working.

    There can be other reasons why her knee joints are weak that are not to do with HIV. Please ask the doctor to refer her to a specialist in joint problems.

  10. Sphiwe

    My daughter has been taking arvs for over a year now but she continuously lose weight and now her knee joint are weak she can’t walk properly


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