An international group of researchers studied the effect of intestinal worm treatment on HIV plasma viral load (VL).
The authors previously suggested that helminthic infections make the host more susceptible to HIV infection and enhance its progression due to the chronic immune activation they cause.
A total of 56 clinically asymptomatic HIV-1-infected individuals from Ethiopia were included in the trial. Of these, 31 (55%) were also infected with helminths.
All participants received antihelminthic treatment at baseline, and at 3 and 6 months.
Worm egg excretion, HIV plasma VL, and T-cell subsets were determined at the start of the study and 6 months after treatment.
The mean age, number of CD4 T cells, and gender distribution were similar in the helminth-infected and noninfected groups.
| HIV plasma viral load strongly correlated to number of helminth eggs excreted.
| Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes |
At baseline, HIV plasma VL was strongly correlated to the number of eggs excreted. It was also higher in individuals infected with more than 1 helminth.
After treatment of helminths, the 6-month change in HIV plasma VL was significantly different between the successfully treated group and the persistently helminth-positive group.
Dawit Wolday, of the Armauer Hansen Research Institute, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, said on behalf of the group, "Helminth ‘load' is correlated to HIV plasma VL.
"Successful deworming is associated with a significant decrease in HIV plasma VL."
"The results of the current study, if confirmed in a larger study, may have important implications for slowing disease progression and reducing risks of transmission," it was concluded.