Am I more susceptible to...
Dec 24, 2002
I have been HIV+ for 3 years and seeing a HIV specialist for 2 years. My viral loads have always been low, 6K or less. My cd4 has been up and down between 500 - 800, between 20 - 35. In September my vl was 6K & cd4 539 at 22. At the beginning of this month, my vl was 3K & cd4 down to 321 at 14. I have never taken any meds and my dr. suggested waiting to see what my numbers would be in March. My question is, with my cd4 count being so low am I more susceptible to colds, flus & opportunistic infections? Is there anything I can do to help boost my cd4 count? Thank you for all the work you do and care you give. It is greatly appreciated!
Response from Dr. Young
Thanks for your question and warm comments.
Would seem to me, based on your numbers, that you've had a slow, but steady decline in both your CD4 count and percentages. This would indicate progressive immune function decline, perhaps resulting in an increase in the risk of minor infections, like flu (though there is little data about flu and HIV).
I have several words of advice. Firstly, since most upper respiratory tract infections are the result of self-innoculation (usually hands to nose or eyes) of contaminated materials; washing your hands with soap and warm water and avoiding rubbing your eyes or picking (yes, we do that) your nose can really reduce the frequency of colds and flus. More importantly, for the risk of flu, is getting an annual flu shot (as recommended by several treatment guidelines).
Frankly, with a CD4 percentage less than 15, if confirmed, have met laboratory criteria for AIDS, and I'd very strongly recommend considering starting on combination therapy for HIV. This is undoubtedly the single best way to preserve (and improve) the health of your immune system and avoid both minor and serious opportunistic complications. I'd recommend a good discussion with your health care provider to discuss the many possible options to find the combination that works best for you.
Hope this is helpful. Good luck and happy holidays. -BY
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