Sexual Health news - HIV

Multivitamins may be harmful to HIV patients receiving HAART

According to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, there is no advantage for HIV-positive individuals to consume high-dose multivitamins while receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), and doing so may even be detrimental. This is the first time researchers have looked into the how nutrient supplements impact patients actively receiving this treatment.

HAART is the current treatment recommended by physicians, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a combination of three or more antiretroviral medications, and decreases the rate at which resistance to a specific drug would develop. The regimen is tailored by an individual's doctor to meet his or her specific needs.

Researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health examined more than 3,400 patients diagnosed with HIV who were receiving HAART in African clinics. Approximately 50 percent of these individuals were also taking high doses of multivitamins, which included vitamins B, C and E, for an average length of 15 months. They discovered that the nutrient supplements had no significant impact on the virus' progression to AIDS. In addition, the study's investigators found that the supplements actually elevated an individual's risk of having high concentrations of ALT, which is an enzyme linked to serious health conditions, such as liver problems.

"This study provides no clear evidence of a benefit of high-dose micronutrient supplementation compared to standard-dose supplementation in adults receiving HAART, but it highlights the need for further research on how micronutrient supplements can be better positioned alongside antiretroviral drugs to reduce morbidity and mortality due to HIV," said researcher Sheila Isanaka.

Previous studies have found that some high-dose multivitamins are safe and effective among HIV-positive individual who are not receiving HAART treatments.