What can weaken the immune system besides HIV?

Question

Mr. Sowadsky,

What other illnesses/viruses can cause immune deficiency? Can stress cause immune deficiency?

Thank you.

Answer

Thank you for your question. There are many, many different things that can weaken the immune system. Some things that can weaken the immune system include (but are not limited to):

  1. Viral infections (HIV is perhaps the best example).

  2. Cancers (leukemia is a good example)

  3. Age (as people get older, the immune system tends to become weaker)

  4. Certain prescription medications (this can include medications that reduce the chance of organ rejection in people receiving organ transplants)

  5. Congenital disorders (SCID, a rare disease, is a good example)

  6. Drug use (for example, it has been suggested that poppers may suppress the immune system to a limited extent).

  7. Severe stress (which can sometimes weaken the immune response to a limited extent)

  8. Poor diet

Some things can severely weaken the immune system (such as HIV and leukemia), and some things will only weaken the immune system to a limited extent (stress and poor diet are examples of that). So when we are talking about the immune system, there are many things that can affect how well it works (or does not work).

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).