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How can low CD4 cells count be increased?

Monday, 28 June 2010
Answered by: Dr Anil Handoo
Consultant, Department of Haematology, B L Kapoor Memorial Hospital, New Delhi
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Q. I am a 39 years old healthy man diagnosed with low CD4 cells count. I want to ask is it possible to increase low CD4 cells count of 200 and 100 to a normal level with proper medication. There are no physical symptoms of the illness yet. Please advise.

A.  CD4 cells are a type of white blood cell that fights infection. Another name for them is T-helper cells. CD4 cells are made in the spleen, lymph nodes, and thymus gland, which are part of the lymph or infection-fighting system. CD4 cells move throughout your body, helping to identify and destroy germs such as bacteria and viruses. The CD4 count measures the number of CD4 cells in a sample of your blood drawn by a needle from a vein in your arm. Along with other tests, the CD4 count helps tell how strong your immune system is, indicates the stage of your HIV disease (I am assuming that), guides treatment, and predicts how your disease may progress. Keeping your CD4 count high can reduce complications of HIV disease and extend your life.

CD4 counts are reported as the number of cells in a cubic millimeter of blood. A normal CD4 count is from 500 to 1,500 cells per cubic millimeter of blood. It is more important to pay attention to the pattern of results than to any one test result. In general, HIV disease is progressing if the CD4 count is going down. This means the immune system is getting weaker and you are more likely to get sick. In some people, CD4 counts can drop dramatically, even going down to zero. The test does not always correspond with how well you are feeling. For example, some people can have high CD4 counts and do poorly. Others can have low CD4 counts and have few complications. There is no specific treatment directed to increase the CD4 counts, however, if one suffers from HIV infection and if your CD4 count goes down over several months, what may be indicated is: beginning or changing antiretroviral therapy & starting preventive treatment for opportunistic infections. Also, one needs to be aware of the fact that public health guidelines (from CDC) recommend starting on preventive antiretroviral therapy if CD4 counts are under 200, whether or not you have symptoms. This is a later stage of HIV infection called AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Some doctors start therapy earlier, when the CD4 count reaches 350. If therapy is effective, your CD4 count should go up or become stable.

A.  CD4 cells are a type of white blood cell that fights infection. Another name for them is T-helper cells. CD4 cells are made in the spleen, lymph nodes, and thymus gland, which are part of the lymph or infection-fighting system. CD4 cells move throughout your body, helping to identify and destroy germs such as bacteria and viruses. The CD4 count measures the number of CD4 cells in a sample of your blood drawn by a needle from a vein in your arm. Along with other tests, the CD4 count helps tell how strong your immune system is, indicates the stage of your HIV disease (I am assuming that), guides treatment, and predicts how your disease may progress. Keeping your CD4 count high can reduce complications of HIV disease and extend your life.

CD4 counts are reported as the number of cells in a cubic millimeter of blood. A normal CD4 count is from 500 to 1,500 cells per cubic millimeter of blood. It is more important to pay attention to the pattern of results than to any one test result. In general, HIV disease is progressing if the CD4 count is going down. This means the immune system is getting weaker and you are more likely to get sick. In some people, CD4 counts can drop dramatically, even going down to zero. The test does not always correspond with how well you are feeling. For example, some people can have high CD4 counts and do poorly. Others can have low CD4 counts and have few complications. There is no specific treatment directed to increase the CD4 counts, however, if one suffers from HIV infection and if your CD4 count goes down over several months, what may be indicated is: beginning or changing antiretroviral therapy & starting preventive treatment for opportunistic infections. Also, one needs to be aware of the fact that public health guidelines (from CDC) recommend starting on preventive antiretroviral therapy if CD4 counts are under 200, whether or not you have symptoms. This is a later stage of HIV infection called AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Some doctors start therapy earlier, when the CD4 count reaches 350. If therapy is effective, your CD4 count should go up or become stable.

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