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Bird Flu and HIVers
Oct 16, 2005

With all the news reports of the Asian bird flu and how it is spreading across the world, I'm wondering what would be the impact of HIVers if it ever became communicable person-to-person. The 1918 flu pandemic killed millions. Would HIVers be the most susceptible and likely first to die?

Response from Dr. Wohl

There is a real concern regarding the emergence of a bird derived influenza that can spread from human to human. To what extent HIV positive people, particularlyt those with low CD4 cell counts, will be disproportionately at risk for the virus and for worse outcomes is difficult to predict. While the very young and the very old (persons with relatively weaker immune function) have been at risk for influenza in the past, the 1918 pandemic effected young healthy people in droves.

Certainly, there is a real concern that any type of influenza can be more devastating to those with immune systems weakened by HIV. Therefore, influenza vaccines are indicated for those with HIV.

DW



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