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Meth and Viral load/CD4
Mar 21, 2011

I relapsed on meth (for about 12 months but am now clean 24 days). I was not drug compliant during much of that time and am expecting to find out in further testing that I have developed resistance to the meds I am currently taking. Luckily (I hope), I will be joining a drug study for a new anti-viral drug. My most recent labs showed a viral load over 50,000 (after years of being undetectable), but they also showed that my CD4 count was 741. (They have never been above 550 in the past 22 years). Is my viral "reactivation" causing an increase in CD4s and can I expect it to last?

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Congratulations on being clean for 24 days. It is very difficult to break free from meth but it can be done. Substance use that interrupts treatment has a consistently negative impact on the effectiveness of HIV medications and, consequently, on viral load and CD4 counts. Drug resistance is very likely. I don't know why your CD4 count would be up after such a period of drug use, but the trend of your CD4 count is what is most important now that you are clean. As you know, CD4 counts do fluctuate (although not usually by that amount) or it could be a mistake. Continue to have work closely with your physician to decrease your viral load and develop a strong support system to continue to stay clean. -David



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