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Will my CD4 count be likely to stay low?
Oct 18, 2009

I was diagnosed with HIV yesterday and am coping better than I anticipated. I'm really keen to do everything I can to make sure that I am in control of my life as much as possible and not to let it get me down. I don't have agreat support network unfortunately so an answer would greatly help my stress!

I was tested negative one year ago exactly in Canada around 3/4 weeks after a very high risk encounter. Unfortunately I didn't go back for my 3 month test and I think this the time frame I caught the infection.

I developed shingles one week ago and decided, as it was morelikely in HIV+ people and I am high risk, I should get tested. Unfortunately it came back positive.

I have had a problem with Ketamine use and don't particularly exercise. I am slightly overweight but nothing to bad and have has psoriasis since before I was sexually active.

I want to know

1) Is it normal to develop an HIV related illness like shingles within a year of becoming infected in a 22 year old male?

2) If my drug use has affected my immune system and led to it being more comprmoised and therefore more at risk from things like shingles, can this damage be permanently reversed if i clean up and sort myself out?

3) Is developing shingles sign of a low count and therefore indicative of a more virulent strain or less possibility of me living as longer or healthier life compared to someone who didn't develop an HIV related illness within a year of becoming infected.

I collect my first Hep, CD4 and viral load tests on tuesday but i know the latter two may not be accurate as I still have shingles (though it is clearing up well)

I'm male, 22 and luickily live in the UK where I have access to meds when I need them. I hope you guys in the US get there soon .

Many thanks and a donation is on the way when my student loan comes through. Your service here is greatly appreciated and I would feel a lot more isolated if I hadn't come across your site.

Response from Dr. Holodniy

1. Yes, you can develop shingles at your age because of ongoing HIV infection. 2. The drug use more likely affected your behavior and not so much your immune system. The HIV virus is affecting your immune system. Depending on what your CD4 count/percent and viral load show, HIV treatment may be recommended and after starting HIV treatment and controlling the viral infection, your immune system can be reconstituted so things like shingles don't reoccur. 3. Developing shingles indicates that some damage has occurred to your immune system, as it no longer can contain these other kinds of chronic viral infections (shingles is a latent form of the chicken pox virus which you probably acquired as a young child). Again, HIV treatment will likely repair your immune system so you want be at risk for these kinds of things.



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