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Exercise
Nov 7, 2007

Hi Dr Bob,

my loved one contracted HIV in April 1997, she is now 43. Up until now she has not been monitoring her CD4 counts or her viral loads and has been healthy without any treatment. The reason we got her checked was for informative purposes. These are the current results. HIG-1 LOG UNITS- 4.793 HIV-1 RNA COPIES- 62 050 CD4 CELL %- 11.16% CD4 CELL COUNT- 262 LYMPHOCYTES-0.3% -2.57 PLATELETS-77 KIDNEYS - FINE

okay so here is the question: I do know that very strenuous exercise can damage a healthy persons immune system even if they are HIV-. How would this affect a HIV+ person with the above scores? She is starting to go back to gym, doing a cardio and weight training regime and we would just like to know just how strenuous the exercise can be before it affects her negatively? We also do multi-day hikes where we cover anything up to 15km's(about 9 miles) per day.

And thanks for the great site and fantastic advice.

Response from Dr. Frascino

Hello,

Why hasn't your loved one been monitoring her CD4 counts and viral loads since 1997???? That doesn't really make sense. Ignoring HIV doesn't make it any less deadly. In fact, just the opposite.

The lab results given show significant levels of immunodeficiency and viral replication. She is definitely the range where HAART (highly active antiretroviral therapy) should be started. A further decline in CD4 count would significantly increase her risk of developing an opportunistic infection or malignancy. Already she qualifies for a full AIDS diagnosis based on CD4 % of less than 14%. Is she under the care of an HIV/AIDS specialist physician? If not, she should establish care without delay.

Regarding exercise, no, strenuous exercise does not damage immune systems, healthy or not. Where did you come up with that idea? In fact routine cardio and resistance weight training can actually be helpful in improving overall health, including immune health. In addition, exercise makes us look better naked! Your concerns about exercise are unwarranted. What you need to be very concerned about is uncontrolled viral replication causing progressive immunodeficiency, not exercise! I strongly urge your partner to see an AIDS specialist ASAP and begin antiretroviral therapy.

Good luck to you both.

Dr. Bob



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