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Wondering about my future as HIV+
May 17, 2008

I've known that I have been HIV+ for about 2 years. Diagnosed with a T-cell count of around 150 and know that I was classified as having AIDS. Today, with Atripla, exercise, and a fairly decent diet, my count is about 387. I'm religious about my meds and in the past two years only forgot 2 maybe 3 times.

On a recent lab my CD4 count was found to be 28. Fortunately, a second test revealed an error and the count was 387. This experience sent me into a panic and has really made me fearful of the future. I still hear of people that have been POS for years getting full blown AIDS. Can people get AIDS after several years of being relatively healthy?

Response from Dr. DeJesus

I will start by congratulating you on taking your meds with good adherence, and overall taking such good care of yourself. You are right. HIV treatment is not just about taking HIV medications, but also combining that with a healthy lifestyle.

You are probably getting overly concerned about your bad experience with the lab. Although you initiated HIV treatment when your CD4 counts were just modestly low, you already have experienced a very good immune reconstitution (improvement of your CD4 counts). You have gained over 200 cells in the past 2 years! That is an excellent response. It is also likely that you will gain a few more CD4 cells (hopefully, enough to push you over the 500 mark) in a few years.

At this point if your viral load remains undetectable you probably do not have to worry about losing T cells or developing AIDS. This just does not happen in patients doing well with a suppressed viral load and increasing CD4 cells. Yes, there are reports of patients with suppressed viral loads developing further declines in CD4 counts, but this is obviously not your case, so I would not worry about it. Enjoy life because you are doing great, and abandon those fears about disease progression. Good luck!



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