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Under the Radar: July 21

By Warren Tong

July 21, 2010

Here's a hodgepodge of underreported news coming out of IAC:

Supplement This: New Studies Support Dietary Supplementation Among People Living With HIV/AIDS

As we recently reported in our Introduction to Dietary Supplements for People Living With HIV/AIDS, supplements can be beneficial for the body and should be considered by HIV-positive individuals. New data coming out at the International AIDS Conference further supports this claim. Marianna K. Baum, PhD, professor of dietetics and nutrition at Florida International University in Miami, presented three studies on supplementation among individuals living with HIV.1,2,3 The studies, conducted in the United States and Botswana, found that vitamin and mineral supplementation -- specifically among the following: Zinc, multivitamins, B-complex vitamins, vitamins C and E, selenium, n-acetyle cysteine and alpha-lipoic acid -- was linked with longer survival, less immune failure and better mitochondrial function in CD4+ cells. As Medscape reports, Dr. Baum recommended that, "at least in Africa, people in the early stages of HIV infection have their nutritional status monitored and receive supplements when appropriate. This should probably occur in the United States too."


  1. Baum M, Campa A, Lai S, et al, and the Dikotlana study team. Micronutrient supplementation to prevent disease progression in HIV-infected adults in Botswana. In Programs and abstracts of the 18th International AIDS Conference; July 18-23, 2010; Vienna, Austria. Abstract MOPE0100.
  2. Campa A, Jayaweera D, Lai S, et al. The effect of zinc supplementation on immune failure in HIV infected adults on stable antiretroviral therapy (ART). In Programs and abstracts of the 18th International AIDS Conference; July 18-23, 2010; Vienna, Austria. Abstract MOPE0101.
  3. Baum M. Marlink R, Jayaweera D, et al. Effect of antioxidant supplementation on immune reconstitution and mitochondrial damage. In Programs and abstracts of the 18th International AIDS Conference; July 18-23, 2010; Vienna, Austria. Abstract MOPE0102.

What Kind of Syringe Is Best?

New research at the International AIDS Conference highlights the strong relationship between syringe type and HIV transmission risk. Jamie Bridge of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS explains that "every needle-syringe, when the plunger is fully depressed, retains some fluid or blood in what is termed 'dead-space.' Some syringe designs have more of this 'dead space' than others." Therefore, the thinking is, when needle sharing takes place, the more blood trapped in the dead space, the higher the chances of transmission, and vice versa. Dr. William Zule of RTI International and his colleagues gathered HIV prevalence data from 35 cities in 20 countries, and also reached out to needle exchange workers to see what types of syringes were being used. Cities that primarily used syringes with high "dead space" had an average HIV prevalence of 32.6% compared to an average of 1.4% in cities that primarily used low "dead space" syringes. While these findings may spark new strategies in harm reduction, it should be noted that all needle-syringe sharing is still a risk.

Nobody Puts Female Condom in the Corner

The male condom has been the poster boy for safer sex and HIV prevention for too long now, says advocates of the female condom. Many supporters are coming out to highlight the female condom's many benefits, or even advantages over its male counterpart. Serra Sippel of the Center for Health and Gender Equity writes, "It can protect against HIV and STIs and prevent pregnancy," but perhaps more importantly, "it is in the control of women to use." However, that's not to say that the male condom is any less practical. As Sippel further states, "The combined availability of male and female condoms has proven to [be] more effective at preventing HIV and other STIs than the sole availability of the male condom."

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