Q and A

Question

Will loosing weight protect my CD4 count?

Firstly…. thank you for teaching me to learn to live again. When it feels like your in a world of darkness your people and your site are a light on the horrizon that lets people know they don’t have to feel this way forever.

Anyway my question is this.

I am aware that there is no real way to improve your CD4 count or to reduce your VL without being on medication. I also know that by missing your meds or by taking other meds or recreational drugs you can run the risk of making your treatment less effective etc.

I’m not on meds at the moment and wonder if there is anything that is a risk to me, in terms of it decreasing my CD4 or increasing my VL quicker? Would being over weight cause my CD4 count to drop quicker? Would losing weight and getting fit slow it down? Understandably, I want to spend as much time as possible drug free. Any advice you can give to help me stay off meds for as long as possible would be very much appreciated.

I feel that meds are perhaps not too far away for me as results are as of 13/02/09 VL is 26,493; my CD4 is 660 and my CD4% is 20%. I was diagnosed in April 2008.

My sincere thanks and appreciation straight from the heart.

Keep up the amazing work you do.

Answer

Thanks for your question, which touches an area that many people ask about.

Without knowing your current general health in terms of weight, diet and exercise, it is difficult to comment in any detail. Generally though, all these areas can imporve general health, as with HIV-negative people. There is unlikely to be any direct effect on your CD4 count or viral load.

Your current CD4 count is strong and your viral load is relatively low, so you have plenty of time to think about when to start treatment and which drugs you want to use.

However, the decision to want to hold off meds for as long as possible, while seeming like common sense in terms of quality of life, isn’t supported by the most recent research.

UK (BHIVA) guidelines recommend that most people start treatment with a count of around 350, but that starting earlier may be appropriate if you have other health risks (including TB or hepeatis coinfection or if you have a high risk a heart disease.

A large international study (called START) is just beginning that will look at starting treatment at any CD4 count over 500 and compare this to waiting until it reaches 350.

In summary, diet and exercise may make you fell better and inprove your general health, but not your HIV stats. Considering treatment as a positive thing rather than something to delay until the last minute may need rethinking…

Thanks also for the nice feedback which is always appreciated.

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