Positive Pinoy: my personal journey with HIV.

I was diagnosed last March 29, 2012 in a time that I was supposed to leave the country in a couple more weeks. I had my medical exam, and the result returned POSITIVE. From then on, my journey with HIV began.

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What's New?: gateway to useful links on local and international news and updates about HIV.

A summary collection of medical articles, research news, and science breakthroughs on HIV/AIDS, STIs, and other related diseases.

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HIV 101: Basic information for the newly-diagnosed.

Understand the basics, know the facts, and take care of yourself. This section contains basic information about HIV/AIDS.

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Social Media: going viral against HIV/AIDS and other STIs.

The entrance of social media in spreading awareness about HIV/AIDS has gone viral. Famous personalities and the common man alike showed their support not just to HIV education but also with regards to the lives and struggles of the LGBT community.

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Health Events: listing of wellness and advocacy events for HIV-positive individuals and friends.

This section contains a summary listing of knowledge-sharing events on HIV, mass HIV testing, and other wellness events that will strengthen the overall health of HIV-positive individuals.

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6) CD4 and HIV

So here’s the timeline of my life with HIV:

March 27 - medical exam for my work abroad
March 29 - HIV positive via ELISA (screening test)
May 8 - HIV positive via Western blot (confirmatory test)
May 28 - first visit to an HIV hub
May 29 - baseline labs
     I had my blood drawn; submitted three samples of sputum; and had my X-Ray. I was told that the CD4 machine is under repair. It has been broken for a month or two, as said by a fellow pozzie.

June 7 - consultation with the hub’s HIV specialist
     He said that all my lab results are good, but I was prescribed with Isoniazid as prophylaxis; just something to prevent me from developing TB. He also explained about possible side effects such as rashes and tremors. I can take antihistamines if rashes and itchiness are not tolerable, and I also opted to take Vitamin B complex in order to counteract the possible tremors side effect. I was also given the clearance of taking my daily supplementation of multivitamins, Vitamins C and E, Selenium, grape seed extract, and garlic oil.

June 22 - CD4 test
June 26 - CD4 result: 518!

Someone who read my blog sent me an email and asked why I worry a lot about my CD4, what its importance is, and how I would be able to get a significantly good result. Here’s a brief summary from several online sources:

What is CD4?

T-cells or T-lymphocytes are white blood cells that play important roles in the immune system. There are two main types of T-cells:

  • CD4 organize the response of the immune system to bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
  • CD8 destroy cells that are infected, and produce antiviral substances.

The relationship of HIV and CD4

HIV targets CD4 cells by binding to its surface, and eventually becoming a part of them. Early in the course of the disease, the body can make more CD4 cells to replace the ones that have been damaged by HIV. This is the period when the person with HIV still feels well and has no symptoms.

Eventually, the body can’t keep up, and the number of functioning CD4 cells decreases. As more and more CD4 cells become damaged, the immune system becomes more and more weakened. The weakened immune system leaves the body at risk for illness and infections.

Uses of CD4 Count

CD4 counts are reported as the number of cells in a cubic millimeter of blood. The normal CD4 count is 500 to 1000. Other sources indicate that normal range is 600 to 1200. It is also more important to pay attention to the pattern of results than to any one test result.

It is useful to have CD4 count regularly measured for two main reasons:
  • To monitor the immune system, and decide whether and when to start to take HIV treatment and other treatments to prevent infections.
  • To help monitor the effectiveness of the HIV treatment.

Personal note:

My baseline CD4 count is 518. For me, my result falls short from the normal range, but it is fairly high that it is still not recommended for me to start with ARVs. I somehow consider myself to be in a critical state because for a period of just around three months starting from the time I was first diagnosed, I developed mild swelling of the lymph nodes and seborrheic dermatitis.

The next schedule for my CD4 is on December, but in my case, I would like to take another one after only three months (September), even if it's not free anymore, just so to know how my health is doing. For now, I just have to focus on improving my lifestyle, so that everything I do is for the improvement of my overall health condition.


Currently have 12 comments:

  1. Congrats on your CD4! Ang taas! :-)

  2. thanks so much! you'll have your CD4 na din next week. God bless. Wishing you the best of health. :-)

  3. Congrats! :P John

  4. thanks! your CD4 is high as well. let's just do our best to maintain or even improve on our next CD4 count. :-)

  5. nice posting.. thanks for sharing.


  7. thank you CD4-Zallen! :-) I'll have my second CD4 count by the end of this month.

  8. Hello, are there any healthcare facilities that do cd4 testing around Pasig/QC area or near those areas? Even if they're not free and how much do you think will it cost? Thank you.

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