The mineral has been found to suppress the progression of HIV–1 viral load and improve CD4 counts.
For the study, 262 HIV-positive men and women were randomly assigned to receive 200mg daily of selenium or a placebo. The nine-month follow-up assessment was completed by 174 participants.
Intention-to-treat analysis indicated that blood selenium levels were 32µg/l in the selenium group, compared with 0.5µg/l in those given placebo.
Patients whose level of blood selenium increased by 26.1µg/ Llor more had an average increase in CD4 count of 27.9cells/µl and a decrease in HIV-1 viral load. But those with a blood selenium level below 26.1µg/l did not have any increase in CD4 count.
These findings were significant after age, gender, ethnicity, HIV symptom classification and time since diagnosis was considered.
While the exact mechanism by which selenium exerts its effect on HIV-1 viral replication is unknown, the researchers proposed that diminished antioxidant function might contribute.
Selenium’s antioxidant properties might repair damage done to immune cells by oxygen, which is produced at higher levels in the bodies of patients with HIV.