Modelling immune health among those living with HIV
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A model that considers the impact of long-term antiretroviral drug treatment on the immune systems of people with HIV may help to develop better screening and treatment protocols.
Currently, HIV lacks a cure, but antiretroviral drugs can help to keep it in check.
Researchers from the University of Cape Town and elsewhere used data from more than 1,600 children and 14,500 adults in South Africa to model how CD4+ T cell counts — a measure of immune health — compare between similarly aged individuals with and without HIV infection.
They found that, among HIV-positive individuals receiving antiretroviral therapies, children have CD4+ T cell numbers that closely match those found in healthy kids of the same age. In contrast, HIV-infected adults showed a greater disparity.
People with fewer infection-fighting CD4+ T cells at the start of treatment also tended to experience faster growth in cell numbers, indicating that more damaged immune systems work harder to recover. But they rarely rebounded fully, thus highlighting the need for early diagnosis and treatment.
- eLife 10, e42390 (2021). doi: 10.7554/eLife.42390