Daily selenium supplements could serve as a useful adjunct therapy for HIV infection by holding HIV-1 viral load in check and elevating levels of infection-fighting CD4 cells. A randomized controlled trial, led by Dr. Barry Hurwitz of the University of Miami, included 262 HIV-infected men and women. After 9 months of treatment, greater increases of serum selenium predicted lower HIV viral load and greater CD4 cell count. Notably, of the 141 selenium-treated participants, the 50 whose selenium levels increased by 26.1 mg/L or more displayed no increase in HIV viral load, and their concentrations of CD4 cells increased by 24.2 percent. In contrast, the 121 placebo-treated participants averaged an increase of 20.2 percent in HIV viral load, which researchers consider large enough to affect the course of the disease. The selenium-treatment advantage, which was gained only by participants who took the supplement as scheduled, held when the researchers accounted for factors that affect immune responses, including antiretroviral therapy. No side effects were observed.
Archives of Internal Medicine 167(2):148-154, 2007. [Full Text (PDF, 159KB)]