Vitamin D deficiency inhibits immune recovery for HIV patients

Vitamin D deficiency inhibits immune recovery for HIV patients
Vitamin D deficiency inhibits immune recovery for HIV patients | Courtesy of
University of Georgia researchers have discovered that a deficiency of vitamin D may inhibit the efficacy of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) treatments in adults who are HIV positive.

People who have HIV infections have such weak immune systems that their bodies cannot defend themselves against common pathogens. Typically, their immune system statuses improve when they receive HIV treatment.

"Because of the immune-destroying effects of HIV, infection usually results in relatively quick death without treatment. The magic of antiretroviral therapy, the name for drugs to treat HIV, lies in its ability to restore immune function," Amara Ezeamama, the co-author of the study and an assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics in the College of Public Health, said. "With antiretroviral drugs, people with HIV are beginning to live longer lives. Our goal was to understand whether vitamin D deficiency limits the amount of immune recovery benefit for persons on HIV treatment."

The longitudinal study lasted for 18 months. Ezeamama evaluated the immune system statuses from 398 adults who tested HIV-positive. She tested their systems at 0, 3, 6, 12, and 18 months. Vitamin D benefited the patients by improving the recovery of the immune system cells CD4+T.

"HIV destroys the capacity of the body to mount effective response to pathogens," Ezeamama said. "Given different vitamin D levels, HIV-positive adults recovered at different rates. We found a relationship between vitamin D and CD4+T cells."

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