Question

What does it mean if my CD4 count is 61. It was 55. I am taking all medication and feel so much better, healthy and fit. I thought my count would have gone up to at least 800, but two tests both revealed it still is 61. Have I got full blown AIDs now? How much longer do you think I can last. Must I make a will and get all my papers in order? Please be honest to me, so that I can make timely preparations.

Answer

Deep breaths, friend. Deep breaths.

There are some more data that can help me understand your situation. If you CD4 cell count was less around 50 when you started HIV medications, it can be difficult to achieve a count in the hundreds despite a low viral load. This does not mean you are not able to enjoy the benefits of HIV therapy. A low viral load all by itself can help you remain healthy. In addition, your CD4 cell count may rise over time. How long have you been on therapy? I have seen slow increases over months to years in people starting with very low counts.

Your CD4 cell count would place you in the "AIDS" category but this designation is becoming obsolete as counts increase and as people gain weight and health on HIV medications despite low CD4 cell counts. Should you have a will? Sure, we all should. But, if you are feeling better on your HIV meds chances are you are not going anywhere anytime soon.

If your viral load is undetectable, you are probably doing all you can do. Work with your doc to keep tabs on your counts and to prevent opportunistic infections.

DW