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Dramatic decrease in CD4 count

Feb 7, 2001

Hi doctor I was diagnosed as HIV+ in Nov 2000. Everything is still new to me. My CD4 count then was 713 and VL 1900. My doctor said it was still early for treatment but gave me vitamins including betacarotene. My second test in Jan 2001 came back CD4 count is 521 and VL 4080. I am very confused as to what this means, does this mean that I am one of the fast progressors and will develop AIDS soon given the big decline in my CD4 in such a short period of time? My doctor suggested we wait for my next test in March to determine if we need to start treatment but in the meantime gave me Phytogard. I have read somewhere that betacarotene is not good for people not on antiretroviral treatment, do you think this can be the reason for the dramatic decline in my CD4 count. Please help me understand all this as I am very scared as I am living in a country where treatment drugs are sill very new and expensive and where people are dying everyday of AIDS-related illnesses.

Response from Dr. Holodniy

I agree with your doctor, in that I would wait until March or so and get another set of numbers. Your numbers are still good and you can afford to wait. Betacarotene has been studied and DOES NOT increase viral load. MH

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