Selenium may suppress HIV progression

Researchers from the University of Miami have found that taking selenium supplements may contribute to a reduction in HIV viral load.

A deficiency in selenium is a complication of HIV disease, often leading to an increase in viral virulence, a decrease in the body's natural killer cells and a progression of HIV disease.

Professor Barry Hurwitz, lead author of the study said: 'Keeping in mind that antiretrovirals are not the complete answer, the goal of our study was to evaluate the effect of selenium supplementation on serum selenium levels in the body, and the subsequent impact on HIV-1 viral load and helper T cell or CD4 count.'

More than 200 patients took part in the study. The participants were given either 200 micrograms of organically bound selenium yeast or placebo. Over 18 months the patients were monitored for serum selenium levels, viral load and T helper cell count.

'This study showed that selenium is a beneficial treatment that can be used as a safe adjunct therapy in combination with ongoing HIV treatments to ensure that the chance of further disease progression is minimised,' said Professor Hurwitz.

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