The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is a blood-borne virus, which causes depression of the immune system. It is typically contracted through vaginal or anal intercourse or the sharing of HIV-contaminated needles. More than 35 million individuals around the world live with HIV/AIDS.
The life expectancy of individuals with HIV, who are not drug users, has increased since the new millennium and it is thought that an individual undergoing routine treatment for HIV could live to age 71. Nevertheless, HIV is a serious disease that leads to weakening of the individual’s immune system and currently has no cure.
HIV infection occurs when the virus enters the blood after unprotected anal or vaginal intercourse or the sharing of contaminated needles during injection drug use. The virus, once in the bloodstream, attacks the T cells in the body by binding to proteins on the surface of these cells known as CD4 and CCR5. Interestingly, some individuals have a genetic mutation where they do not express CCR5 on their T cells and are therefore immune from HIV.
However, this mutation is very rare. Once the HIV virus binds CD4 and CCR5 in the T cells, it then begins to replicate in T cells leading to the demise of these cells. Without T cells, the immune system is nearly paralyzed from fighting against all disease since the T cell is a major control cell of the immune system, activating helper immune cells that protect the body against disease. HIV is currently treated with antiretroviral drugs, which stop the virus from replicating in the body and subsequently prevents demise of the T cells.
HIV infection, if not treated with antiretroviral drugs, can lead to serious sequelae (secondary diseases). This usually occurs when the person’s T cell count has dropped to below 200 cells though serious sequelae could occur as early as 400 T cells. Once the T cells have reached as low as 200, by clinical definition, the person has AIDS. AIDS-defining illnesses include recurrent bacterial infections, candidiasis of the esophagus, loss of vision, brain cancer, Karposi sarcoma (a type of cancer that often forms nodules on the skin), or severe muscle wasting.
While no clinical data is available on supporting the immune system of patient’s with HIV, it may be logical to assume that a nutritional supplement like Thymic Protein A, which allows the thymus to mature T-cells, would support the immune system and be beneficial.