Sunday, April 22, 2012

Essential Minerals for HIV+ People

From the book "Built to Survive (click here)

1.        Calcium - 300 mg or more three times per day. Take for strong bones, nerve health, and muscle growth itself. Calcium and magnesium are nutrients that Dr. Jon Kaiser recommends to prevent and treat neuropathy. Optimal calcium intake improves insulin sensitivity,[i] so calcium is another nutrient that might help reduce some lipodystrophy symptoms. Calcium carbonate (not citrate) supplementation at 500 mg twice daily can reduce protease inhibitor-induced diarrhea.[ii]

2.      Magnesium - 200 mg or more three times per day. Necessary for bone, heart and nerve health, and muscle growth and strength. Also involved in healthy insulin metabolism, so magnesium supplementation may reduce the potential for some lipodystrophy symptoms.

3.      Zinc - 10 to 30 mg three times per day. Improves healing and immune function. One poorly designed questionnaire-based study suggested that having too much zinc might decrease survival in HIV.[iii] Other studies show; there is a correlation with low zinc status and an increase in bacterial infec-tions[iv]high dose zinc supplementation (200 mg per day) can reduce the incidence of the deadly lung infection called pneumocystis and candida infections, and cause an increase in CD4 T cells and body weight;291 and that low zinc status in HIV is associated with increased risk of death.24 While there is an upper limit to how much zinc is safe (it can interfere with selenium's beneficial antitumor and antiviral effects), after communicating with leading zinc researchers, I find that the potential safe upper dose limit for short term use appears to be approximately 150 mg per day. Zinc is required for healthy testosterone production,[v] and IGF-1 production[vi] Zinc can inhibit the activity of several of the herpes viruses,[vii] and there appears to be an association between herpes and immune destruction in HIV.283 High dose zinc has been shown to significantly reduce cold symptoms.[viii] (To fight herpes outbreaks and colds I take high dose zinc or use zinc acetate lozenges myself with great success. I always add 2 mg of copper per 50 mg of zinc because copper is required with zinc in the manufacture of a super oxide dismutase, which are important antioxidants that are made in the body.) Zinc is best taken alone before bedtime for optimal absorption. Nutrition expert Dr. Richard Beach at the University of Miami says that many HIV(+) people need 75 or more mg of zinc per day, and Dr. Baum's study, as cited earlier, indicated 90 mg per day was needed to get adequate blood levels for many HIV(+) people

1.      While I would not suggest overloading with zinc, poor zinc absorption and increased need for zinc by HIV(+) people makes an optimal level of zinc supplementation very important. (Note: an overload is not well defined, and is very individual.) If a person is ill or is highly progressed, it is possible that they will need as much as 90 to 200 mg of zinc per day. High-dose zinc is generally only advisable for short periods of time, though, and for specific reasons. Ask your doctor or a certified nutritionist or registered dietitian if you think you might need high doses of zinc, and show them this information because they may not be aware of it. Symptoms of zinc deficiency are poor sense of smell and taste, slow healing, poor quality skin and hair, and low neutrophil counts.

4.      Selenium - 100 to 200 mcg three times per day. Works with vitamin E, and helps in the generation of glutathione, the body's critically important natural antioxidant. One HIV study found correlations between CD4 T-cell counts, selenium levels, and glutathione levels.[ix] In a study of 125 HIV-infected men and women, Dr. Marianna Baum found that patients with selenium deficiency were 19.9 times more likely to die of AIDS than patients with adequate selenium levels.[x] She theorizes that the link between selenium and mortality is due to selenium's antioxidant function or action in gene regulation that might actually affect the replication of HIV itself. "In selenium deficiency the HIV virus reproduces faster," she said.

5.      Copper - 2 mg. Necessary for healing, and helps form super oxide dismutase (SOD), an important antioxidant enzyme in the body. If you are taking high dose zinc (more than 40 mg per day) you may need to take more than 2 mg of copper, as high dose zinc can induce a copper deficiency. Copper is critical to immune health and antioxidant production in the body. Ask your doctor to test for zinc and copper deficiencies.

6.      Chromium - 300 mcg three times per day. Chromium supplementation improved insulin sensitivity 40 percent in a study with diabetics without toxicity at 1000 mcg per day,[xi] so chromium is another nutrient that might help reduce some lipodystrophy symptoms. (Chromium's potentially toxic dose is considered to be about 70,000 mcg per day according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.)
7.      Iron - 18 to 50 mg. A 6-year University of California at Berkeley study showed that iron intake was highly correlative with reducing progression of HIV to full-blown AIDS, and 54 mg per day from food and supplements appeared to be about twice as good as 36 mg to reduce HIV progression.308  Iron is poorly absorbed in general, so supplementation can be very important for people who are anemic and suffer from low energy. Iron is necessary for the production of carnitine in the body, the health of the red blood cells, immune health, the body's ability to fight bacteria, and energy production.

Iron is an essential nutrient and the body utilizes iron for optimal health properly when oxidative activity in the body is under control because there is an abundance of antioxidants, like Vitamin E and Beta Carotene that are derived from a healthy diet and/or dietary supplements. Optimal iron status is required for overall health in early HIV, however, there is a potential for iron overload in HIV, especially in the more advanced stages,[xii] or when antioxidant status in the body is compromised, or when there is insulin resistance.[xiii] Iron overload can increase the potential for immune problems and increased infections, so it is advisable to ask your doctor to test and monitor  body stores of iron by testing serum ferritin in blood tests.

However, serum ferritin, which is the most commonly used method of testing iron stores in the body may not accurately reflect excess iron stored in the liver, heart, bone marrow, etc., according to Sharon McDonnell, MD, MPH, of the Centers for Disease Control. She says that testing for transferrin saturation provides a more accurate indication of this kind of stored iron, especially if it is elevated in more than one test.

For those of you who do include iron in their daily supplementation, there is one form of iron that is considered to be basically nontoxic, even at doses in the thousands of milligrams. This form is called iron carbonyl,[xiv] and it is the form of iron contained in the SuperNutrition and the AMNI vitamin formulas.

[i] Sanchez, M. et al. Oral calcium supplementation reduces intraplatelet free calcium concentration and insulin resistance in essential hypertensive patients. Hypertension (1997) 29(1 Pt 2):531-536.
[ii] Perez-Rodriguez E, et al. The role of calcium supplements in the treatment of nelfinavir-induced diarrhea. 39th ICAAC, Sept. 26-29, 1999 San Francisco, California. Abstract #1308.
[iii] Tang, AM, et al. Effects of micronutrient intake on survival in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 infection. Am J Epidem (1996) 143(12):1244.
[iv] Koch, J, et al. Zinc levels and infections in hospitalized patients with AIDS. Nutrition (1996) 12(7-8):515-518.
[v] Hunt, CD, et al. Effects of dietary zinc depletion on seminal volume and zinc loss, serum testosterone concentrations, and sperm morphology in young men. Am J Clin Nutr (1992) Jul;56(1):148-157.
[vi] Dorup, A, et al. Role of insulin-like growth factor-1 and growth hormone in growth inhibition induced by magnesium and zinc deficiencies. Br J Nutr (1991) Nov;66(3):505-521.
[vii] Arens M, et al. Zinc salts inactivate clinical isolates of herpes simplex virus in vitro. J Clin Microbial 2000 May;38(5):1758-1762.
[viii] Petrus E, et al. Randomized, double-matched, placebo-controlled, clinical study of the effectiveness of zinc acetate lozenges on common cold symptoms in allergy-tested subjects. Cur Thera Res 1998, September;59:595-607.
[ix] Dworkin, BM, et al. Abnormalities of blood selenium and glutathione peroxidase activity in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome and AIDS-related complex. Biol Trace Elem Res (1988) 15():167-177.
[x] Baum, MK, et al. Risk of HIV-related mortality is associated with selenium deficiency. J AIDS Hum Retro (1997) 15:370-376.
[xi] Anderson, RA, et al. Elevated intake of _supplemental chromium improve glucose and insulin variables in individuals _with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes (1997) 46:1786-1791.
[xii] Boelaert, JR, et al. Altered iron metabolism in HIV infection: mechanisms, possible consequences, and proposals for management. Inf Agents & Dis (1996) 5(1):36-46.
[xiii] Dandona, P, et al. Insulin resistance and iron overload. Ann Clin Biochem (1983) 20 Pt 2:77-79.
[xiv] Gordeuk VR, et al. Carbonyl iron therapy for iron deficiency anemia. Blood, 67(3):745-52 1986 Mar.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fw: Hot Topics at The Body's "Ask the Experts" Forums

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Date: 17 Apr 2012 17:58:27 -0400
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April 17, 2012
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 Will I Be Alive for the Cure?
I'm 27 years old and newly diagnosed with HIV. I've been on Atripla (efavirenz/tenofovir/FTC) for almost a year. I'm already experiencing anxiety and depression, and I'm worried about what taking these strong meds for my entire life is going to do to me. An HIV cure feels like the only answer. Last year I read a lot of buzz about cure research, but lately it appears to me that optimism is flagging again. Can I hope to see one in my lifetime?

Nelson Vergel responds in the "Nutrition and Exercise" forum

 Why Do You Recommend Vitamin D?
Nowadays I've been hearing a lot about vitamin D. Why do you think that is? Is vitamin D the best vitamin supplement for people living with HIV? Do you recommend a particular brand of supplement?

Benjamin Young, M.D., Ph.D., responds in the "Choosing Your Meds" forum

More Questions About Living With HIV/AIDS:


 Can I Use My Poz Partner's Semen for Personal Play?
My partner is HIV positive. Would I be at risk of becoming HIV positive if I used his cum as lube to masturbate myself with?

Erik Glenn, M.A., responds in the "Safe Sex and HIV Prevention" forum

 Am I Legally Bound to Reveal My Spouse's HIV Status?
My spouse was diagnosed with HIV over 18 years ago. The number of people who know this info is very few. A lab tech from a local lab had to take some of my spouse's blood for a recent non-HIV-related health issue. We've been familiar with this person and their family for many years, and my spouse didn't want to reveal their HIV status. I don't believe the person took "universal precautions" when performing my spouse's blood draws, though no needle-stick accident took place. In situations like this, am I legally responsible to reveal my spouse's HIV status when I know that my spouse will not? Can I get in any trouble if I don't?

Christa Douaihy, Esq., responds in the "Legal Issues and HIV" forum


 Can My New Employer's Insurance Deny Me for a Pre-Existing Condition?
I've been HIV positive for almost 20 years. A year ago I was laid off and I haven't had coverage for about nine months. I've now returned to work and my new insurance carrier is stating I have a pre-existing condition. What can I do?

Jacques Chambers, C.L.U., responds in the "Workplace and Insurance Issues" forum

Visual AIDS: Art from HIV-Positive Artists

Image from the April 2012 Visual AIDS gallery Detail from:
"Resistance," 1993
Elliott Linwood

Visit the April 2012 Visual AIDS Web Gallery to view our latest collection of art by HIV-positive artists! This month's gallery, "Borders/Crossings," is curated by Liz Barr.


 Should I Join a Study of Human Growth Hormone for Belly Fat Loss?
The local university medical center in my area is conducting research on the effects and safety of human growth hormone (HGH). Should I participate in the study? If I start HGH now, do I have to be on it for the rest of my life? Do you think it will help me manage the belly fat gain I've been noticing lately?

Keith Henry, M.D., responds in the "Managing Side Effects of HIV Treatment" forum


 Which Are the Best HIV Med Regimens?
I'm a 23-year-old male, diagnosed with HIV about a year ago. I've been taking Norvir (ritonavir), Prezista (darunavir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) for four months now. Aside from a rash I had at first, I seem to be tolerating them well. Which would you say is the best anti-HIV treatment combo for the long term -- possibly one with fewer pills and side effects? What are the options?

Nelson Vergel responds in the "Aging With HIV" forum

 Didn't Take Meds With Food: What Are the Consequences?
I'm 64, I was diagnosed with HIV three years ago and I'm taking Intelence (etravirine) twice daily and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC) once daily. My viral load was undetectable and my T-cell count was 625 as of a month ago. I was recently hospitalized with gastritis and diverticulitis and was fed intravenously for a few days before returning to a full diet. When I explained to the doctor that I need to take Intelence after a meal, he ignored that and told me I needed to not eat. How likely is my current regimen to fail because I didn't take the meds with solid food?

Joseph P. McGowan, M.D., F.A.C.P., responds in the "Choosing Your Meds" forum

More Questions About HIV/AIDS Treatment:


 Are There Any Supplements That Help Relieve Neuropathy?
I've been HIV positive since October 2007 and doing well. I started taking HIV meds in November 2011 and soon had problems with pain, numbness and tingling in my hands, fingers and feet (peripheral neuropathy). My doctor told me to take a vitamin B-complex tablet, but the neuropathy got worse. I have now switched regimens twice and am terrified the pins and needles will return, but I want to be on meds that will keep my HIV in control. Do you know of any herbs or supplements that can help with neuropathy symptoms?

Nelson Vergel responds in the "Nutrition and Exercise" forum

 How Do I Treat an Esophageal Ulcer on My HIV Meds?
I'm a long-term HIV survivor (HIV positive since 1987) with an undetectable viral load, taking Norvir (ritonavir), Reyataz (atazanavir) and Truvada (tenofovir/FTC). For a long time I've had a burning when I swallow, and I recently found out I have an esophageal ulcer. Virtually every medicine out there interacts with Reyataz. How am I going to treat this new condition while taking my HIV med regimen?

Benjamin Young, M.D., Ph.D., responds in the "Choosing Your Meds" forum

Connect With Others

How Do Other Mixed-Status Couples Remain Successful?
(A recent post from the "Relationships and Dating" board)

My partner and I have been together for almost a year now. Halfway through the year I was diagnosed with HIV. It has been a struggle yet we are still together, going strong with pretty much no issues. I know relationships can go up and down. However, It would really be nice to hear from some people who have been together, had the significant other become infected, and have continued to push forward. Does anyone have any advice on keeping the relationship strong? -- Patrick_Ingram

Click here to join this discussion, or to start your own!

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 Can Stress Increase Viral Load?
I've been taking my HIV meds on time for seven years and practicing safe sex. My viral load has been undetectable for a long time now, but recently it popped up to 241. Do I need to worry? Could stress have had a negative effect on my viral load?

Mark Holodniy, M.D., F.A.C.P., C.I.C., responds in the "Understanding Your Labs" forum


 Is a Woman at More or Less Risk for HIV During Her Period?
If a woman has unprotected sex with an HIV-positive man and her menstrual cycle begins very soon after intercourse, is her chance of becoming HIV positive higher, lower or the same as it would be were she not menstruating?

Richard Cordova responds in the "Safe Sex and HIV Prevention" forum

 Hepatitis C and Razors: Is My Child at Risk?
I have hepatitis C. My 2-year-old son got a hold of my razor, which I thought was too high up for him to reach, and got a small cut on his foot. I recall cutting myself using that razor about 36-40 hours prior to this incident. I'm pretty good about rinsing the razor after each use, but I'm still worried about my son. Could he be at risk for hepatitis C? If so, when should I get him tested?

Barbara McGovern, M.D., responds in the "Hepatitis and HIV Coinfection" forum


 Could the Home HIV Test Give Me HIV?
When I found out I was pregnant I stressed out about getting an HIV test, so I bought one off the internet. I had my actual test about three weeks later and it came back negative. It's now three months after and I have started to worry. When I did my home test I used a lancet. Thinking back, it was really irresponsible to put a pin in my finger, when I had no idea where the pin came from. I have read posts on whether HIV can live on a needle. Some say it can. Some say it can't. Have I put myself and unborn baby at any risk? Should I be re-tested?

David Fawcett, Ph.D., L.C.S.W., responds in the "Mental Health and HIV" forum

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Activist Central

 Stop Arizona Bill 2625

 Applications to Volunteer at AIDS 2012 Available April 1st

 Under Attack: Your Health Care Rights

 Activists Launch New Survey to Help Speed HIV Cure Research

 Demand Hershey Reverse Decision on HIV+ Student and Dismiss School Officials

 Count HIV+ Women In! PWN Launches National Campaign on World AIDS Day

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Merck’s Cavalier Attitude Towards the Welfare of HIV/HCV Coinfected Patients

What You Don’t Know, You Can Sell

tagline Spring 2012<>

by Tracy Swan

In places where access to antiretroviral therapy is widespread, people
living with HIV are now dying from a common and curable coinfection:
hepatitis C virus (HCV). HIV increases the risk for, and accelerates the
rate of, liver disease from hepatitis C. Pegylated interferon and
ribavirin, medications used to treat HCV, are less effective in people with
HIV than in their HCV-monoinfected counterparts.

In 2011, the first hepatitis C protease inhibitors, Merck’s boceprevir and
Vertex’s telaprevir, were approved based on trials in people with hepatitis
C monoinfection. Both drugs are being studied in coinfected people, thanks
to pressure from the international HIV/HCV community and encouragement from
regulatory agencies.

Despite outrage from activists, Merck refused to study drug-drug
interactions (DDIs) between boceprevir (Victrelis), their HCV protease
inhibitor, and drugs commonly used to treat HIV, putting coinfected study
volunteers at risk for drug-drug interactions in their own clinical trial.

Drug-drug interactions can have serious consequences for HIV/HCV-coinfected
people, who risk forfeiting current and future treatment options for HIV
and possibly HCV as well. DDIs can lower drug concentrations to an
ineffective level, leading to drug resistance, or increase drug
concentrations, worsening side effects and leading to treatment
discontinuation; they can even be life-threatening, as was the case with
ribavirin and didanosine (DDI; Videx).

The boceprevir coinfection study opened in mid-2009, before Merck had
performed drug-drug interaction studies with HIV protease inhibitors in
healthy volunteers, a common step in drug development. Nonetheless,
coinfected study volunteers were allowed to use them; in fact, by default,
HIV protease inhibitors— or Merck’s own integrase inhibitor, raltegravir
(Isentress)—were the only HIV treatment options for study volunteers, since
non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors were not allowed. Activists
kept asking Merck to perform DDIs throughout boceprevir’s development, but
Merck’s attitude remained cavalier; they did not launch key drug-drug
interaction studies until two years later, months after boceprevir was

The results of DDI studies with three ritonavir-boosted HIV protease
inhibitors, atazanavir/r (Reyataz), darunavir/r (Prezista), and lopinavir/r
(Kaletra) in healthy volunteers (rather than the actual trial participants
who were using boceprevir with HIV protease drugs for almost a year) were
presented in March at the 19th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic
Infections (CROI) in Seattle. The news was not good. Combining boceprevir
with these HIV protease inhibitors lowered concentrations of each HIV
protease inhibitor, at both the highest and lowest (peak and trough) levels.

Boceprevir lowered the peak concentration of atazanavir/r by 25 percent,
and the trough by 49 percent; darunavir/r peak decreased by 36 percent and
trough by 59 percent; for lopinavir/r, coadministration with boceprevir
dropped the peak concentration by 30 percent and trough by 43 percent. In
turn, boceprevir levels dropped by 45 percent when coadministered with
lopinavir/r and by 32 percent when administered with daruanvir/r; only
atazanavir/r had no effect on the concentration of boceprevir.

Failure to characterize these drug-drug interactions put study
participants—and coinfected patients— at an unacceptable level of risk,
although clinical implications—or real-life impact on HIV and hepatitis C
treatment outcomes—of these drug interactions are not clear. Nonetheless,
the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned that “drug interactions
between the hepatitis C virus (HCV) protease inhibitor Victrelis
(boceprevir) and certain ritonavir-boosted human immunodeficiency virus
(HIV) protease inhibitors (atazanavir, lopinavir, darunavir) can
potentially reduce the effectiveness of these medicines when they are used

Regulators from the European Medicines Agency’s (EMA) Committee for
Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) went a step further, recommending
that “doctors treating patients co-infected with hepatitis C and HIV should
be aware of the findings of the drug interaction study. They should not
co-administer Victrelis with ritonavir-boosted darunavir or lopinavir in
HIV and hepatitis C co-infected patients. Co-administration of Victrelis
with ritonavir-boosted atazanavir may be considered on a case-by-case basis
if deemed necessary in patients with suppressed HIV viral loads and with an
HIV strain without any suspected resistance to the HIV regimen. Increased
clinical and laboratory monitoring is warranted.”

Vertex’s rival protease inhibitor, telaprevir (Incivek) has outsold
boceprevir: in the fourth quarter of 2011, telaprevir trounced boceprevir
$456.8 million to $87 million. The opportunity to capture the coinfection
market share may have motivated Merck’s decision to delay drug-drug
interaction studies. HCV is more likely to be diagnosed and treated in
HIV-positive people than people with HCV alone, for several reasons. HIV
treatment guidelines recommend HCV testing for all HIV-positive people; the
infrastructure to deliver treatment is already in place; and hepatitis C is
known to be more aggressive in people with HIV, so physicians and patients
are more game to try for a cure.

After Vertex reported drug interactions between telaprevir and ritonavir
boosted HIV protease inhibitors, boceprevir became a more attractive option
for co-infected people. Merck’s vice president of clinical research, Robin
Issacs, alluded to off-label use in the company’s February 8 press release.
“Though VICTRELIS is not indicated for the treatment of chronic HCV in
those who are also infected with HIV, we recognize that some physicians
have prescribed or may be considering prescribing VICTRELIS for patients
taking ritonavir-boosted HIV protease inhibitors. We felt it was important
to share these data as part of our commitment to patient safety and

*Where was Merck’s commitment to safety during boceprevir’s development? We
can only hope that no patients have been harmed.*

The boceprevir experience underscores the importance of timely DDI studies.
There are other medications used by people with hepatitis C—whether or not
they are coinfected with HIV—that warrant study, such as methadone,
buprenorphine, and commonly prescribed psychiatric medications. Merck
representatives have stated that the company will be more proactive with
their promising second-generation hepatitis C protease inhibitor, MK-5172.

Activists have released a
on regulatory agencies and pharmaceutical companies to study DDIs between
experimental HCV drugs that are broken down by the body in a similar way
with hormonal contraceptives, methadone, buprenorphine, lipid lowering
agents, immunosuppressive drugs, herbal remedies, and commonly prescribed
psychiatric medications in addition to HIV medications. •

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Interleukin-7 is Looking Better and Better….

CROI 2012- Oral Presentation  #94:   Gut Mucosa T Lymphocyte Restoration in Chronically HIV+ Patients Treated with Recombinant Interleukin-7

HIV infection caused decreases in CD4 cells in the gut mucosa that are only partially restored by ART. This study was an open-label  study of recombinant interleukin-7 (rhIL-7) (manufactured by Cytheris) in chronically HIV-infected persons, on ART, mostly immunologic non responders with CD4 between 101 to 400 cells/mm3 and  HIV viral load <50 copies/mL. 

Twenty-two patients have been enrolled and received 3 weekly rhIL-7 injections at 20 mcg/kg. All were evaluated at baseline , and at week 12 post-IL-7 administration for peripheral blood T lymphocyte counts and plasma HIV-RNA. Gut mucosa sampling was performed.

Blood CD4 and CD8 were 260 and 650 T cells/ mm3 at baseline, increasing to 645 and 1395 cells/mm3 at week 12 respectively. The proportion of gut mucosal CD4 (gated on CD3+) cells increased from 40.3 to 45.8 post-IL-7 , as did the CD4 number (million cells/g tissue) from 2.5 to 4.7, most of which were memory cells.

Some inflammatory and immune activation markers in gut mucosa decreased or remained unchanged with IL-7.  Activated gut CD3+ cells increased. Although plasma sCD14  (soluble CD14 receptor, present in macrophages that combat lipopolysaccharides that permeate through the intestinal mucosa and that are caused by microbial translocation in the gut) levels did not change significantly, D-dimer levels decreased from 0.24 mg/L at BL to 0.14 mg/L at week 12 .  High levels of D-dimer have been associated with cardiovascular disease in previous studies. This study shows that IL-7 can potentially reconstitute the gut barrier after HIV infection with the possible decrease in microbial translocation.
IL-7 did not increase viral load in these patients, which has been a concern in some previous studies since IL-7 can reactivate latent HIV reservoirs.

Listing of current and closed studies with IL-7

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