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Is your cd4 below 200 and....

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Morton Salt:
I was wondering if anyone here has a cd4 less than 200 and is not taking any medications yet?  and if so, why not?


Hello Morton,

Back in 2003, I had a t-cell count of 16, and I was not on medications.( never was) I was also at that point about 17 years into HIV infection. I had a t-cell count done in 1999 and it was in the the mid 900 range, with the viral load approximately the same.

Somewhere after that test in 1999, I became too confident,( in my good health at that time) and I basically stopped seeing doctors. I really had believed, That I was not going to get sick !! By the time 2003 rolled around, I had 16 t-cells , viral load over 500,000, and suffered through a 30 pound weight drop over  a period of 10 months. For me the reason, for not starting on meds, was DENIAL !!! It was the worst mistake I had ever made, and I regret it very much.  Of course, knowing what I know now, I would NEVER have allowed that to happen, and I am very fortunate, that I made a come back, and am still around, at least for the time being...

Everything fell apart quite rapidly between 2000 and 2003.... But I am holding my own right now !


Morton: I am not under 200 but I just wanna say Ray's story and my story have tons of parallels. The biggest similarity was the dangerously stupid DENIAL thing that I held onto for years i.e. viewing my health as stellar, not knowing or caring about my viral load and tcells. I nearly died twice last year because of this ignorance and foolish pride which I used to mask my fear of starting meds; fear of diarrhea, lipo, wasting, "looking sick". All these fears I blew out of proportion. Mountains from molehills as the saying goes...

For anyone out there reading whos afraid: Don't let fear control you


My friend Felix had his last blood test last november. He had 180 cd4. He lied to me and said he tested again and was above 400 cd4. The other day he forgot what he said to me and told me one blood test a year was enough for him. But he looks healthy...

Hey Mort,

Reading Ray and Alex's posts are a perfect example of why people should:

1) Monitor their viral loads/CD4s.

2) Begin treatment when appropriate (CD4 350 or below, etc.)

I have a friend who lived in a state of denial for about 10 years. He was fine, he said, and didn't want the bother of blood tests.

One day at work, he became ill. In his case, work was on a ship in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. Well, he didn't get any better. Instead, he began having uncontrollable diarrhea, fever, etc.

Within the span of a few weeks, he dropped from about 140 pounds to 70 pounds, was airlifted to the mainland where he spent three weeks in a less than stellar hospital on the Gulf Coast (how do people survive the South?) and now is bedridden at home, under the care of his mother.

The rule of thumb is once the CD4s drop below 200, a person should be on prophylaxes for oppportunistic infections, beginning with Bactrim or an equivalent for those who can't tolerate Sulfa drugs.

The lower the CD4, the more drugs are needed to fend of more OIs. Once the CD4 drops below 50, the person if basically fair game for any OI out there.

I have known people who lived with very low CD4s for a quite a while. But when they are at 50 or below, it isn't a question of if the person will contract an OI, it is when.

I am not trying to be an alarmist. I am simply being realistic. I have seen it way too often, over and over again.

So, a person may "look fine" for a while with a low CD4 count. They may function well, continue to work, etc. But, eventually, something - or a bunch of somethings - will rear their ugly heads.

The question I would ask is, with the advancements in treatment and the ease of new regimens, why would anyone wait until they were at such low levels?




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