Im a gay man turning 55 this summer.
When I was diagnosed in 2012, 48 years old, my CD4 count was only 90. In the 7 years that have passed since the numbers have varied from 70 to a maximum high of 290, with a non-detectable viral count.
In 2012 I started off with Prezista, Norvir and Truvada + Bactrim, my present regime is Isentress, Kivexa and Bactrim.
Every time I get sick, a cold or stomach flu, my CD4 numbers drop, I unfortunately contracted syphilis two years ago which caused a drop to an all time low of 70.
Right now its 180, I contracted a norovirus during a holiday Gran Canaria recently.
I know there is no magic formula to answer my problem, but how can I improve my immune system? I seem to be one of the few hiv patients whose immune system seems not to recover, probably after being undiagnosed for many years prior to 2012.
I live a very quiet life, eat a healthy diet and go to work daily. I have a passion for perfumes and live with my two dogs and two huge fish tanks. As I live in Norway with cold winters I always get vaccinated for seasonal flu every fall. My sex life is very on and off; I can binge a weekend or abstain for many months.
I long for not having to worry about getting sick all the time, is there anything I can do? I know long time survivors who almost died and got their lives back when the meds came. Their CD4 counts went up, like magic. My numbers remain low. Is there an explanation to this, something I have overlooked?
To everyone out there who is hesitant about taking an hiv test, just do it, dont wait too long as I did and end up with a permanently damaged immune system.
I would be very grateful to find a solution, a hope for improvement.
Thank you for providing your story and medical history. You've done well over the last 7 years and I understand your frustration regarding your CD4 count. You have already indicated that you know that the lower your CD4 count is when diagnosed, and the longer one remains undiagnosed and not on HIV treatment, the more damage that has been sustained to the immune system and therefore more difficult for the immune system to return to normal. Your situation is unfortunately not unique. The lower the CD4 count when you start HIV treatment the slower and longer it takes for the CD4 count to increase. In general, we see an average of 150 cell increase after starting HIV treatment and becoming undetectable. So your response is pretty normal. If someone maintains an undetectable HIV viral load we still can see a slow rise in CD4 count/percent years after starting treatment. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix. Changing HIV medication regimens or adding drugs doesn't seem to increase CD4 count much when someone is undetectable. And at this time, there are no "immune system boosters" that have been studied in clinical trials which have demonstrated sustained clinical improvements. It's important to keep taking your meds, maintain health lifestyle habits and keep the faith.