According to a recent study published by International Medical Press, HIV infected youths benefited from vitamin D supplementation adjunct to antiretroviral HIV treatment.
Human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV, is a virus which attacks the body’s immune system. Specifically, the virus attacks CD4 cells, a component of the adaptive immune system commonly known as helper T cells. Helper T cells are important for the activation of other pathogen-fighting cells within the immune system. Due to the destruction or weakening of these cells, HIV is eventually able to prevent the body from being able to fight off disease and infection.
Immune system cells, such as T cells and monocytes, are common markers of HIV pathology. T cells are activated when foreign invaders, such as viruses, enter the immune system. Therefore, elevated cell activation or cells counts are an important marker of viral activity. Additionally, as the virus invades the immune system and replicated throughout the human body, CD4 T cells are working hard to fight the foreign invader. Over time, this may lead to CD4 exhaustion, meaning that the cells produced to fight the virus are overwhelmed and unable to continue their role in immune defense. CD4 exhaustion is another common marker of HIV disease activity.
Those infected with HIV are especially susceptible to infection and conditions such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease and more. Additionally, this population is at a much higher risk of all-cause mortality. Similar to HIV infected adults, HIV infected youths are at high risk of developing comorbidities due to the virus. Additionally, because this population will live with the virus for many decades, these individuals are more likely to experience an impaired quality of life.
Antiretroviral therapy (ART), a virus suppressant, is the most common form of controlling the progression of HIV. Due to vitamin D’s known role as an immuno-regulatory agent, past research has explored the effect of vitamin D deficiency on HIV patients undergoing ART. Researchers discovered that vitamin D deficiency was associated with increased disease progression and mortality in HIV patients. Additionally, a small number of studies have found vitamin D to be an effective adjunct treatment option in combination with ART. In order to validate these findings, researchers conducted a randomized, placebo-controlled trial to evaluate the role of vitamin D combination ART (cART) on immune markers in HIV infected youths.