Simple dietary supplements could help stave off AIDS

Many people newly infected with HIV stayed healthy on regimen involving multivitamins and selenium

HIV-positive people who take multivitamins plus selenium fend off the virus’s effects better than those who don’t take the supplements, researchers report in the Nov. 27 JAMA.

For the study, scientists enrolled 878 adults in Botswana who were diagnosed with HIV but hadn’t begun any treatment. They were randomly designated to receive a multivitamin plus selenium for two years, selenium alone, a multivitamin alone or a placebo.

Compared with the placebo group, those getting the multivitamin-and-selenium combination were about half as likely to see their concentrations of key immune cells called CD4 cells drop below a threshold at which a person typically needs anti-HIV drugs. The combination recipients were also about half as likely to develop or die of AIDS as those on the placebo.

Alone, neither the multivitamins nor selenium protected against falling CD4 counts or developing AIDS.

Selenium and several vitamins are important in immune function. Marianna Baum of Florida International University in Miami and her colleagues conclude that the multivitamin-selenium regimen can delay progression to disease in people newly diagnosed with HIV.

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