CRC - Micronutrients and HIV Infection

Organization: CRC
Publication Date: 14 September 2001
Page Count: 273


To date, 22 million people have died from AIDS and 36 million are currently living with HIV infection. The full impact of the HIV pandemic is, therefore, yet to be felt. In the meantime, HIV continues to spread, with more than 5 million newly infected during 2000. While neither a cure nor a vaccine exists, drugs have been developed that allow patients to live with the infection for a longer period. However, among the 1% of the world's population fortunate enough to have access to these drugs, side-effects and the development of drug resistance are major concerns. For the vast majority of those living with HIV infection, antiretroviral drugs are not available. Given the magnitude and complexity of the HIV scourge, there is no simple solution to combat it. Rather, there is a need for a multifaceted response with an aim to prevent primary HIV infection, to halt its progression and prevent its transmission to partners and children, and to provide care to those affected.

Before the antibiotic era, it was common knowledge that proper nutrition was essential to a host's resistance to infections, as well as an important part of the therapy. While this knowledge base is still viable among laymen and in veterinary medicine, it seems to have vanished from clinical medicine. However, the past 3 decades have seen a renaissance of the interest in the role of nutrition in infectious diseases. In recent years, randomized, controlled trials have confirmed that improved micronutrient intake effectively reduces morbidity and mortality from a range of specific infections.

Micronutrient deficiencies are widespread in developing countries, and even in developed countries among the underprivileged. Also, micronutrient deficiencies develop during early asymptomatic HIV infection. Evidence suggests that improved micronutrient intake may reduce HIV transmission and progression, as well as the morbidity from common and opportunistic infections. This book was written to help translate current knowledge on the role of micronutrients in HIV and other infections into better case management and public health interventions for the benefit of people living with or exposed to HIV.