Meds, Mind, Body & Benefits > Questions About Treatment & Side Effects

Undetectable, yet falling CD4's and %

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I have been undetectable from the very beginning of meds (18 months).  MY labs in July showed a CD4 of 242 and percentage of 18.  I did labs about a month ago, and CD4's were 189 and 17%.  We redid them again last week and I was at 161 and 13%.  All the time still undetectable.

I am a bit concerned that maybe there is another player in there (cancer?) other than the HIV causing the drop.  My doc has told me to do another set of labs, but it is kind of freaking me out.

I know that I have been smoking (cigs and pot) perhaps a bit too much.  Any ideas?

John –

I am sorry to hear about your recent drops in stats.  From what you’re saying about smoking, you may want to include micronutrients which replace the deficiencies it can cause.  In particular, you should be taking extra C, E & Selenium if you’re a smoker – which are also essential nutrients for the immune system.  This may not be the exact reason for your drops, but taking this stuff cannot hurt either.  The thing is, you can protect the immune system all you want w/ antivirals, but you also need to fed it in order for healing and restoration.  Advanced HIV can effect digestion and absorption, so taking vitamins is rarely a bad idea.  Take a little trip to the vitamin store and try to relax in the meantime while you get more labs.

Best of luck…     


Hey John,
Hmmm, this is a puzzle.

If the trend continues with the next set of labs, I would have a heart-to-heart with the doc. While smoking might depress your CD4s some, it isn't something you have suddenly taken up. You have been smoking all along, right?

I won't try to second guess what might be going on. I'm no doctor. But, if the numbers don't start to turn around, I would want to find out if something else is going on.

In the meantime, try to lessen the stress levels in your life and, as Jason suggested, look at adding some vitamins to your daily routine.

I will be keeping you in my thoughts and send some positive energy your way.



Thanks Jason and Mark,

I am going in today to have another set done.  We will have to see.  I know that I haven't been feeling tip top, which would explain the CD4 drop, but the percentage is a question.

Thanks again


Hey John,

What are you on?  I can understand your concern.  I remember reading that a subset of folks will see a drop in tcells despite good control of the virus (undetectable).  Sometimes if this is confirmed (over an extended period of time), doctors will make a change in the regimen, hoping that maybe another combo (sometimes even a different group...i.e., moving from PI's to non-nukes, or vice versa) will benefit the patient.



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