Dec 25, 2008
Nelson: This question has been asked numberous times by people writing to the doctors....and the doctors never answer it directly they always skirt it with some mumbo jumbo...so here it is. Is there anything we can do as HIV patients to help increase our cd4 counts other than continue to take our medication.
Response from Mr. Vergel
It is impossible to predict how much someone's CD4 cells will increase after starting HAART. Most studies average at least 150 CD4 cells after 48 weeks. A long term study showed that CD4 cells can keep increasing slowly even after 5 years of HAART and undetectable viral load. But some people have very small increases and never go over 200 CD4 cells. We really do not know why some people respond better than others, but we know this:
1- Take your meds on time. But you know that already
2- Keep your immune activation to a minimum by treating any infections, herpes, thrush, and others right away. Staying in prophylaxis for herpes, PCP (If under 200 CD4 cells), and other diseases is key. Avoiding or quickly treating sexually transmitted diseases will also prevent unnecessary immune activation that may increase viral load and deplete CD4 cells
3- Keep your nutrition to the best possible. Eat 4-5 servings of fruits and vegetables, cold water fish like salmon, good oils like olive oil, avocados, almonds, lean meats, eggs, and never get dehydrated (if you are thirsty, you already are dehydrated!) Taking a multivitamin twice a day would be a basic way to supplement your diet.
4- Keep your lean body mass up by exercising three to four times a week with weights, machines, going up the stairs, doing push ups on the floor, etc
5- Learn how to manage stress, depression and anxiety. Hobbies, support groups, therapy, volunteering, medications if needed, exercise, and a good support system are some of the things that you can use to keep good mental health.
I hope this helps some.
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