HIV and AIDS need low cost treatments to fight huge public health issues in parts of Africa. Scientists just made a major stride in that fight. Above: a cell infected with HIV, Reuters
HIV is one of the most devastating viruses known to humans, but a simple over-the-counter formula can fight its effects and prevent it from turning into full-blown AIDS. With HIV and AIDS taking a huge toll in parts of Africa, the treatment could open new doors to Patients given a multivitamin plus selenium were half as likely to need anti-HIV drugs than patients receiving a placebo. The study, which appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, provides a low cost treatment for people with HIV, who typically endure high medical costs and a regular cocktail of drugs.
The researchers looked at 878 HIV patients who, at the start of the experiment, were healthy enough to not need AIDS medication (anti-retroviral drugs). Over two years, some of them were given a multivitamin and selenium, some just got one or the other, and some only got a placebo. Only the group that got the combo did significantly better than the placebo group, but with them, the results were clear. They were much less likely to die or to need anti-retroviral treatment.
The researchers note that in poor countries with high rates of HIV, like Botswana, with its shocking HIV rate of 23.4%, the multivitamin plus selenium treatment could be a true lifesaver:
“Alternative strategies to slow progression early in HIV disease and delay an appreciable number of individuals from developing AIDS in the near future would allow additional time to prepare health care systems in resource-limited countries and allot needed resources for timely HIV interventions.”
While much of science is devoted to finding powerful new treatments to fight diseases, sometimes the most good can come from simple regimens that are cheap and that anyone who can get to a drug store can provide for themselves.