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Newly Diagnosed & Exercise
Sep 30, 2009

Hi - l have within the last two weeks been given a positive diagnoses at the age of nearly 49, after attending a long overdue sexual health screening (all STIâs came back negative, with the exception of the positive result).

Prior to my diagnoses my last test had been undertaken in June 2004 meaning that l had contracted this virus within the last 5 years. Around 18 months ago l started an exercise regime based around a rigorous cardio vascular programme 3 â 4 times weekly consisting of circuits and spinning on static bikes, this along with a change in eating habits has resulted in me loosing around 20llb in weight. However, l have just had my first bloods back with a CD4 of 217 and VL of 122420. I had assumed prior to the bloods coming back that the low CD4 and high VL indicated that l might have been infected some time ago. However, after speaking to various people and reading things on the web it appears that the relatively low CD4 maybe a result of my exercise programme which has to my understanding suppressed my immune system, is this likely to be the case? â lâm feeling at the moment that an exercise programme started to improve my health (prior to my knowledge of being positive) has had, in effect the opposite effect. In the UK the marker for starting meds is around the CD4 350 mark and l am due to see the specialist soon. I have really got into exercising want to continue my exercising regime as it makes me feel good, but not at a cost to my health am l likely to be told that this form of exercise is not a wise thing to do?

Also is there a way to get an indication as to the length of time l have infected?

Thank in advance - Gazza, London, UK

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello Gaza from London,

Sorry to hear about your recent HIV diagnosis.

Wherever you heard or read about exercise suppressing the immune system and leading to lower CD4 and/or high HIV plasma viral loads, I totally disagree! Exercise is actually good for your immune system as well as your general health. I try to hit the gym daily and I agree exercise makes you feel great. The scientific explanation for this is that exercise causes the body to release "feel good" endorphins. Plus, exercising has the beneficial effect of making us look better naked. And that's got to improve anyone's spirits, right?

I wonder if your post contains a typo or did you really lose 201 pounds over the past 18 months? That would be impressive to say the least.

Once you meet with your HIV specialist, I'm confident he'll discuss general good-health measures, including a nutritious diet, decreasing stress, getting adequate sleep/rest, not smoking or using party drugs or excessive alcohol and he will also encourage a well-rounded exercise program, including cardio plus resistance weight training. You can read more about all of these topics on this site. Have a look around.

I'm here if you need me. Let's get through this together, OK? Now could you spot me on the bench press please?

Dr. Bob


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