When it's time and what to watch for
Without doubt, CD4 counts are the usual signposts for starting HIV treatment. Meds are suggested for those with counts below 350 and strongly recommended under for those 200. Physical illness is also a reason to start, according to treatment guidelines.
HIV meds can cause a person feeling bad to temporarily feel even worse. Headaches, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting are common, especially during the first weeks. “Don’t stop treatment,” warns David Malebranche, MD, “without communicating with your provider.” Many of these problems are benign. But some may be signs of something more serious (and rare), including a buildup of acid in the blood (lactic acidosis), a severe allergic reaction, or liver problems, in which case an immediate hospital visit is called for.