Mar 27, 2003
what could cause a low count in a 55 yr old's hemaglobin?
Response from Dr. Frascino
Since this is an HIV information website, I'll assume you are HIV+.
What causes anemia in HIVers? Well, for starters, HIV itself can do it! The mechanism is that HIV causes chronic inflammation, which suppresses bone marrow function, which in turn slows down the production of red blood cells. Second, there are a variety of opportunistic infections that can result in anemia - MAC, TB, parvovirus B19, just to name a few. Third, poor absorption of nutrients, like vitamin B-12, folic acid, or iron, can lead to anemia. Hormonal imbalances are sometimes also part of the cause. To top it all off, sometimes our immune systems may mistake our own red blood cells as foreign invaders and zap them. Finally, HIV meds can sometimes cause the problem. AZT in particular is well known for suppressing red blood cell production. Then you could add in all the non-HIV-specific causes, such as blood loss, cancer, genetic conditions, and a host of other potential problems, but that's a whole other list entirely.
Hope that helps.
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