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Selenium: African Studies Reported at Durban

by John S. James

July 28, 2000

As usual, the International Conference on AIDS this year was weak on nutrition, but there was information in scattered abstracts and presentations. A search for "selenium" found three abstracts, two of which concerned nutrition.

"Selenium deficiency is associated with shedding of HIV-1-infected cells in the female genital tract," by J. Baeten, S. Mostad, M. Hughes and others, abstract #MoOrA226, reported finding selenium deficiency in 11% of 318 women studied in Kenya. They found that the deficiency was associated with "a nearly 3-fold increased likelihood of shedding of genital mucosal HIV-1 DNA, suggesting that deficiency may increase the infectiousness of women with HIV-1." They suggested further study of nutritional approaches to reducing HIV transmission.

"Nutritional determinants of CD4+ T-cell counts in Ethiopians: a possible role for selenium?" by A. Cherinet, C.E. West, P. Versloot and others, abstract #MoPpB1016, reported that in HIV-positive Ethiopians, selenium levels were lower for those with more advanced HIV disease (as indicated by lower CD4 count). But in those who were HIV negative, higher selenium levels were found in those with lowest CD4 counts, for unknown reasons. The authors noted that Ethiopians generally have lower CD4 counts than international norms, also for reasons which are not known.

ISSN # 1052-4207

Copyright 2000 by John S. James. Permission granted for noncommercial reproduction, provided that our address and phone number are included if more than short quotations are used.

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