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Transfer Factor
May 31, 2011

I'm newly diagnosed and reading moe than I can possibly learn all at once. I came across immune boosting trials along with information I cannot understand about TRANSFER FACTORS... Can you explain to me what this is? Is it helpful for HIV infection? Maybe with a simpler definition I canbegin to understand some of it better. Thanks!

Response from Dr. McGowan

Transfer factors are proteins that are made by lymphocytes and may be used by cells to regulate their immune response to antigens. Antigens can be bits of infectious agents such as viruses and funguses and bacteria. Their exact function is not known. Whether or not a mixture of these proteins taken from one person or animal and given to another would benefit them is uncertain. These chemicals operate at the microscopic level so the effects of taking unmeasured doses of them is unknown. They would probably have to be injected, not taken by mouth to be effective. The purity of such preparations and safety are not known. In addition, any proteins that are derived from an animal source, such as transfer factors, may be contaminated with prions...which are the cause of Bovine spongioform encephalopathy (mad cow disease). They are listed by the FDA as dietary supplements and have not been proven scientifically to have a role to play in the treatment of any disease. The only data in HIV patients comes from 1996 when it was combined with zidovudine (ZDV), there was no benefit clinically to the patients who got the combination. Our thoughts about HIV have changed alot since the 1990s. We now recognize that an immune stimulant is not what is needed to kill HIV. HIV already causes too much immune stimulation due to it's ability to cause an imbalance in the function of the immune cells. The only way to restore that balance is to kill off the virus by using antiretroviral therapy and then allow the body to restore itself naturally without the virus killing off the lymphocytes as they try to grow. The body will restore itself with proper nutrition once the virus is killed off. I have not seen anything that would make me suggest Transfer Factors as an effectiive treatment option now for HIV. Best, Joe

Thank You Dr. McGowan
Average time to progression and viral set point

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