Nov 20, 2000
I was just wondering if, by any remote chance, blood transfusions would be a good treatment for HIV or AIDS. If, as the HIV-positive blood recipient, you could get a fresh supply of healthy T-cells from the HIV-negative blood donor, wouldn't that at least prolong your life? Sorry...I have always wondered about this and just thought I'd ask.
Response from Dr. Pavia
It sounds like an attractive idea, but it doesn't work. Here are some of the reasons. A typical blood transfusion is only the red blood cells; CD4 cells (T cells) are a type of white blood cell. 99% of T cells live in the lymph nodes and spleen, the ones in the blood are traveling, or "on patrol" and the number present in a unit of whole blood would be to small to help. Most important, if you get T cells from another person, they will recognize your body as foreign, and attack it, and your body will do the same, and try to reject the invader. This will not only destroy the cells but could make you very sick.
It has been tried between identical twins, where matching is not a problem. To get more cells, bone marrow transplantation has even been tried. Unfortunately, it has not worked so far.
Good question though
Andrew T. Pavia, M.D.
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