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Does HIV detroy the whole immune system?
Nov 20, 1997

I've read many articles stating that early treatment helps preserve the immune system from damage. Is this damage to the entire immune system or mainly limited to T-cells? Is the damage reversable with treatment or is the damage permanent? If HIV damage is reversable with treatment, why begin treatment early, rather then waiting for as many years as you can?

Response from Dr. Murphy

Dear Immune System Damage Questioner,

HIV-1 primarily attacks the T-cells, but in turn, these regulate other parts of the immune system, so other parts of the immune system are also affected. Once potent therapy is started, the immune system has a chance to recover, but it never goes back to normal. This is an area of intense scientific interest at the present time. The advantage to starting therapy early is that less of the immune system is damaged and the recovery is greater than if you wait until it nearly destroyed. The drugs are also more likely to work earlier in the disease process. The problem of course is that you have to continue them indefinitely and there are complicated to take.

RM


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