|Can HIV itself make me anemic?
Jun 17, 2000
WOW DR. BOB,
I WAS SO EXCITED AND PLEASED TO FIND YOU AT THIS WEBSITE!!!I DIDN'T BELIEVE IT WAS YOU UNTIL I SAW YOUR PICTURE.
I NEVER MISS YOUR LECTURES WHEN YOU COME TO MONTEREY. WHEN ARE YOU COMMING BACK? I'VE BEEN READING YOUR COMMENTS ON THIS SITE AND SEVERAL TIMES YOU MENTIONED THAT HIV ITSELF CAN MAKE YOU ANEMIC. CAN YOU EXPLAIN THAT A BIT? YOU TOOK CARE OF MY PARTNER WHEN HE WAS VERY ILL WITH ANEMIA. I THINK HE HAD A DIFFERENT TYPE OF VIRUS IN ADDITION TO HIS HIV BUT I'M KIND OF CONFUSED AND MY MEMORY FOR THINGS IN THE PAST ISN'T WHAT IT USED TO BE. STAY WELL AND MANY THANKS FOR ALL THAT YOU DO FOR ALL OF US.
Response from Dr. Reznik
Thanks for your kind comments. Anemia can result from a wide variety of causes linked to HIV and it's effect on our immune systems. There is a condition called "anemia of chronic disease" that occurs in HIV and a variety of other conditions. It is attributed to a deficit in bone marrow production of the cells that eventually develop into red blood cells. These are called progenitor cells. The hallmark of "anemia of chronic disease" is a blunted erythropoietin response. This gets a bit confusing, but erythropoietin is a hormone that regulates the production of new red blood cells. When the red blood cell count goes down the blood can't carry as much oxygen. This should stimulate the release of more erythropoietin, which in turn would stimulate the production of more red blood cells. With chronic diseases like HIV or cancer, this feed back loop doesn't work properly. The amount of erythropoietin released is not proportional to the decrease in the red blood cells. That's why PROCRIT, which is synthetic erythropoietin, is so effective in treating this condition. Regarding your other question about another virus that causes anemia in the setting of HIV disease--your memory is correct. The other virus is Parvovirus B19. It's considered an opportunistic infection in people with compromised immune systems and can lead to severe anemia. It is most effectively treated with intravenous gamma globulin. As for my next trip to Monterey, I'm scheduled to speak there in August. Until then--good thoughts!
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