Multivitamin Supplementation May Help Reduce AIDS Mortality
Healthnotes Newswire (December 4, 2003)-People with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) may live longer by taking a daily multivitamin and multimineral (MVM) supplement, according to a new study in AIDS (2003;17:2461-9). The study's findings suggest the enhanced survival with MVM supplementation may be restricted to those with AIDS and may not necessarily apply to all HIV-positive individuals.
AIDS is caused by infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and affects more than 800,000 Americans of all ages. Almost 500,000 people in the United States have died from AIDS and related complications or infections. The incidence of HIV and AIDS has slowly decreased over the past decade in the United States; however, AIDS continues to be a problem in developing countries and is responsible for the death of millions of people worldwide. The lack of access to expensive prescription medications for AIDS in some countries increases the need for an inexpensive, effective treatment to reduce mortality.
In the new study, 293 HIV-infected adults and 188 adults with AIDS between the ages of 18 and 63 years were assigned to receive a daily high-potency MVM or placebo for 48 weeks. The MVM contained nutrient amounts significantly higher than the RDA for healthy individuals, because HIV-infected people are believed to have higher-than-normal nutritional requirements. Participants were examined every 12 weeks and had CD4 (a type of white blood cell that regulates the immune system and is affected by HIV) counts measured every 24 weeks. Mortality rate was determined at the conclusion of the study.
The death rate was significantly lower in the group receiving the MVM (3%) than in those taking the placebo (6%). The lower mortality rate was only observed in those whose HIV infection had progressed to become full-blown AIDS (defined as a CD4 count of less than 200 million per liter). There was no significant difference in mortality rates between the MVM and placebo groups among those with higher CD4 counts. MVM use did not cause an increase in CD4 cell counts, suggesting that the benefits of MVM therapy are due to some other effect on the immune system or to an improvement in overall health.
The results of the new study are encouraging for the millions of people who suffer from AIDS and its related illnesses. Death from AIDS is most often due to secondary infections, such as pneumonia, which develop in the face of a compromised immune system. Taking a daily MVM may improve the immune system and ward off some of these secondary infections. People taking anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) should consult their physician before taking a MVM, since some of the components of the MVM may interfere with some prescription medications.
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