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Blood Cell transfusions
Jun 30, 2008

I have a simple question, why can't blood transfusions be administered in treating AIDS patients? If a match were provided wouldn't the increased presence of CD4 cells help their immune system, say if they received such transfusions weekly?

Response from Dr. McGowan

Your question hits at one of the most challenging aspects of treating HIV. The problem with having low CD4 count with HIV is not that the body is not making CD4 cells, but rather that they are being destroyed quickly. Activated CD4 cells only last a day or 2 in the body and your bone marrow is churning them out quickly. Also, CD4 cells are the active cells of your iummune system so it would be hard to match them in order to avoid causing reactions in the body. Exchange transfusions were tried early on in the epidemic before we had effective medications and they did not help much. The new cells are just as vulnerable to inefection as the natural ones made by the body. Also many of the cells that are killed are not actually infected themselves, they are just consumed by all the inflammation around them.

Thanks, Joe

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