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CD4 Counts & Radiation for testicular cancer
Jun 3, 2006

I'm a 38-year old male that was diagnosed as HIV+ in 2003. My CD4 counts have averaged 650-750, with percentages in the 30-35 range and VL 400-500. I have never taken meds. My Dr. calls me a long-term non-progressor.

Last July I was diagnosed with stage one testicular cancer. My treatment consisted of a radical orchiectomy & four weeks of radiation treatments to my abdomen. After the treatments my CD4 cell counts plummeted to 187. However, my VL stayed low (2600 now), and my % has been in the high 20's/low 30s. Im doing everything I can naturally to support my body & immune system. Now my doctor wants me to start meds due to the low CD4 count, but I feel strongly that the drop is due to the radiation, not the HIV virus. I have plenty of energy, have not been sick, and my CD4 counts have increased to 240 over the last 3 months. My questions are: 1) Is it OK to give my body a full year to recover from the radiation before considering meds (even if CD4 counts are not optimal, and 2) Even if I do start meds, will my CD4 counts rise substantially if I am still recovering from the radiation treatments?

Response from Dr. Pierone

Your situation is unusual but I think that you may be correct in your decision to decline antiretroviral therapy at this time. I have seen infections, chemotherapy, and other stressors temporarily lower CD4 counts. If the latest count increased to 240 this looks like a favorable trend and you may return to your baseline with passage of time. Let us know what you and your doctor decide and how things turn out. Thanks for posting!

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