The essential role of zinc in immune system function has generated considerable scientific interest in the potential for adequate zinc status to slow the progression of HIV disease and decrease the incidence of opportunistic infections.
Decreased serum zinc levels have been associated with more advanced disease and increased mortality in HIV patients.42,43 However, it is unclear whether low plasma zinc levels in HIV patients are related to zinc deficiency or disease progression.44 In the largest intervention trial conducted in AIDS patients, supplementation with 45 mg/day of zinc for one month reduced the incidence of opportunistic infections compared to placebo.45 However, the HIV virus also requires zinc, and excessive zinc intake may stimulate the progression of HIV infection. In an observational study of HIV-infected men, increased zinc intake was associated with more rapid disease progression, and any intake of zinc supplements was associated with poorer survival.46,47 These results indicate that further research is necessary to determine optimal zinc intakes for HIV-infected individuals.48
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