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Drop in T-Cell Count

May 31, 2003

My t-cell count was 405 and viral load undetectable in November 2002. I just tested and my t-cell count dropped to 295 but my viral load is still undetectable. Does this really mean anything? Also, does the fact that my t-cell count has never been higher than the low-400s since I tested postive in the summer of 2000 any indication of my (all things being equal) longevity?

Response from Mr. Vergel

T cells fluctuate a lot sometimes with no explanation. I would not worry if your viral load is undetectable and you have no symptoms. It is impossible to predict your longevity based on your T cell count. I know it is very stressfull getting results that show that your T cells are lower. But hang in there, keep a good attitude, rest, eat well, exercise, and manage stress. Some people complain that their T cells do not go up even after achieving pretty good viral control. There is a lot of research in that area right now. If your T cells keep dropping, you may want to talk to your doctor about adding IL-2 to your regimen. It has flu like symptoms side effects but can increase T cells in many patients, specially the ones with undetectable viral loads. But for now , I would just relax and keep taking care of yourself. No decisions should be based on one number; it is the trend that matters. Nelson

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