Supplements to Slow Disease Progression

supplementsWill taking a daily multivitamin and selenium help if you have HIV, but your CD4 count isn’t low enough to qualify for antiretroviral treatment?

In a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of 878 HIV-positive men and women in Botswana, Dr. Richard Marlink, Executive Director of HAI, and colleagues showed that a single supplement containing specific multivitamins (vitamins B, C, E) and selenium was safe and significantly reduced the risk of immune decline and death over a two-year period. The supplements cost just pennies per week.

“The likelihood that you would get AIDS or die was reduced by 50% over the two-year follow up, said Marlink. “If you’re a person with HIV and you don’t yet qualify for treatment, this is a very cheap and non-toxic way to slow the damage that HIV could cause to your immune system, though it shouldn’t be looked upon as a replacement to get on antiretroviral treatment if you need it.”

The paper was recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The findings replicate an earlier finding by Harvard School of Public Health researcher Dr. Wafaie Fawzi and colleagues in Tanzania among pregnant women.

About Martha S Henry

Martha Henry is the Director of Communications for the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health AIDS Initiative.