Zinc Supplements Safe, Reduce Morbidity in HIV-Positive Children, Study Says
November 29, 2005
Zinc could be a safe, "simple and cost-effective" intervention to reduce illnesses such as diarrhea and pneumonia in HIV-positive children, according to a study published in the Nov. 25 issue of the journal Lancet, Reuters reports. Scientists had been concerned that zinc supplements for HIV-positive children might not be safe because the virus uses the mineral -- which is important for the development and maintenance of a healthy immune system -- to replicate and infect new cells (Reuters, 11/25). William Moss of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore and colleagues administered zinc supplements for six months to half of a group of 96 HIV-positive South African children between the ages of six months and five years. The other half of the children in the study received a placebo for six months. The children who received the zinc supplements had fewer occurences of diarrhea than the placebo group and did not experience an increase in HIV levels in their bloodstreams, according to the researchers (AFP/Yahoo! News, 11/25). The researchers concluded, "Programs to enhance zinc intake in deficient populations with a high prevalence of HIV-1 infection can be implemented without concern for adverse effects on HIV-1 replication. In view of the reductions in diarrhea and pneumonia, zinc supplementation should be used as adjunct therapy for children with HIV-1 infection" (Moss et al., Lancet, 11/26).
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.