Some of my AIDS dissident friends reject outright the tests used by mainstream AIDS (AIDStream) doctors to evaluate ‘HIV-positive’ patients and to determine if and when to start treating them with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), more commonly known as the “AIDS cocktail” of drugs. While I agree with them that we can’t know for sure that CD4 and viral load tests are accurate and viable measures of infection or progression, let alone reliable indicators that a person needs to embark on a lifetime of toxic drugs, I do not dismiss the tests as completely useless and meaningless, either.
That CD4 counts can be quite variable, fluctuating even during the same day is commonly understood. No single test result should be considered significant on its own. Viral load could be measuring cellular debris caused by other infections or stressors in the body. What I am paying attention to for myself is the long term trends of these, as well as other clinical markers, and more importantly, how I feel.
So, why should I get excited about my latest labs? Following the cancer scare of a few months ago, I undertook yet another significant change in my own treatment plan. In addition to pursuing Medicare-funded allopathic care from an infectious disease specialist to rule out the possibility of tuberculosis, I am also getting testing, advice and care at the Riordan Clinic, which focuses on improving patients’ health, rather than fixating on fighting individual diseases. The clinic offers a compelling mix of modern medical practice with an “alternative” perspective that appeals to me. Going outside the system for care has also dug a hole into our retirement savings because much of what they do—particularly intravenous ascorbate (IVA)—is not covered by Medicare or any other medical insurance.
I have already received the results from some of the tests done at Riordan Clinic, such as the Organic Acids Tests (OATS), and I will be writing more about those soon.
Unlike those recent snapshots of other markers that may be helpful in identifying specific health problems, I have more than 12 years of history regarding my VL and CD4 counts, so I am able to chart long term trends, which I consider to be significant. The latest results came back yesterday and they strongly suggest that something I have been doing recently just might be making a difference, at least in these supposedly important lab markers.
The blood for these tests was drawn right after Christmas, following three infusions of high dose intravenous ascorbate (IVA), or vitamin C a couple of weeks earlier. The CD4 count, which every self-respecting PWA wants to go up, went from 307 ten weeks earlier, to 496, my highest CD4 count in nearly three years, and well above the levels recommended by all but the most extreme AIDStream authorities for initiating HAART, though they do keep trying to raise the bar, especially in the United States, where funding for AIDS drugs is high.
My viral load result, while not as impressive in terms of scale, is also heading back in the direction that we’re told is desirable—down more than 15,000 copies to 90,400 during the same period.
Now, for all the requisite disclaimers: I know better than to make any treatment decisions based on a single set of labs, and I often preach this mantra to others, so it would be equally foolish to draw any conclusions based on one set of labs. I will continue to track them to see if this is the beginning of a new trend.
Nor do I have any proof for what might have caused this change in these laboratory markers. There are a few significant things that I can think of that I have done differently since the previous labs were drawn: I had three infusions of intravenous ascorbate (IVA), and I had restarted the low dose naltrexone (LDN), another alternative treatment that seems promising. The month prior to the blood draw I was also taking a lot of additional supplements, mostly amino acids, curcumin and green tea extract, as part of an alternative cancer cure, and I have been more diligent about increasing the amount of my diet that is plant-based foods.
I may never know which, if any of these things, or combination of things, caused the reversal of the trend of declining CD4 counts. That’s one of the problems with being a single patient experimenting with alternative medicine. This is no controlled trial, let alone a double blind study. Being consistently methodical is not always an option in my life. This information is part of an anecdote, but that shouldn’t mean it is completely useless or meaningless.
While CD4 count and viral load test results are admittedly imperfectly understood laboratory markers, what other measure am I to use to evaluate alternative treatments that my friends are asking me about? In addition to an improved CD4 count, I have also experienced an improvement in my energy and stamina. I hope that I have thwarted whatever was causing the swollen glands that led to a diagnosis, first of cancer, then of necrotizing granulomas, and later, possible tuberculosis. Only time will tell. Changes in symptoms like fatigue can be caused by too many things and are too subjective to be relied on alone as evidence of clinical improvement. Until I’ve lived a few more years in reasonably good health, these markers will have to suffice to guide me until something better comes along.
The main reason I started this blog was to share my personal experiences, and I know friends and family who follow me here to keep up with what I am doing. As much as I’d like to dismiss these counts, I have to admit that it feels encouraging to see them reverse, and move in such “good” directions, especially following so closely on what has been a very intentional effort on my part to try some new options.
These results are far from conclusive evidence of any kind of success for an alternative treatment. What they do offer is a strong argument that it is possible to reverse laboratory markers without resorting to ARVs. This seems important to me.
Regardless of one’s opinion about the validity of the HIV=AIDS theory, or the Gallo antibody test for ‘HIV’, or the significance of clinical laboratory markers; if the purpose of ARV drugs are to lower viral load and increase CD4 counts, and if there are other, less toxic and less expensive ways to accomplish these ends, where is the research funding and will to validate what I and others are doing on our own?