News / Health

Study: Gut Bacteria Worsen AIDS

x
Jessica Berman
Infection with the virus that causes AIDS alters the balance of bacteria which normally live in the gut, according to researchers, and that may shorten the lives of HIV-positive patients, even though they are treated with anti-viral drugs. The finding suggests that antibiotics may extend their lives.

Everyone has bacteria in their large intestine, some of which help digest food and others that may cause disease.  In healthy people, this microbial community is kept in check by the immune system.  But in people who are HIV positive, researchers say it appears the infection may recruit harmful gut microbes in greater numbers that further inflammation, leading to life-shortening chronic diseases.  

Ivan Vujkovic-Cvijin is a biomedical researcher at the University of California San Francisco.  

He says investigators studied the community of bacteria that live in the lining of the large intestine in patients infected with HIV, and compared the profile of microorganisms to that of healthy individuals.  

Vojkovic-Cvijin says they saw greater numbers of so-called “bad bacteria,” including E. coli, Salmonella and Staphylococcus, in AIDS patients, causing inflammation that may be posing an extra challenge to their already compromised immune systems.

“And we think that this may be detrimental to people that are infected with the virus and may actually increase the rate at which people may develop AIDS, which is the destruction of the immune system as a result of HIV," said Vujkovic-Cvijin.

Researchers took small tissue samples from the large intestines of 24 patients with HIV.  They analyzed the samples using a type of molecular “barcode scanner,” which allowed them to detect more varieties of gut microbes than the traditional method of growing microorganisms in laboratory dishes.

The implication of the discovery, according to Vujkovic-Cvijin, is that treating HIV positive individuals with antibiotics may slow the progression of the infection and lengthen their lifespans, which tend to be shorter than average despite treatment.

“Work like this suggests that while anti-retroviral drugs attack the virus, there may be other problems, such as this deregulation of the community of bacteria that live in the gut.  And we think maybe by restoring this community back to healthy state, we may actually be able to help those lifespans back to normal," he said.

Vojkovic-Cvijin says more research is needed to see whether antibiotics actually improve the ability of AIDS patients to fight their disease.

An article on gut bacteria in HIV patients is published in the journal Science Translational Medicine.  

You May Like

Ukraine Purges Interior Ministry Leadership With Pro-Russian Ties

Interior Minister Avakov says 91 people 'in positions of leadership' have been fired, including 8 generals found to have links to past pro-Moscow governments More

US Airlines Point to Additional Problems of any Ebola Travel Ban

Airline officials note that even under travel ban, they may not be able to determine where passenger set out from, as there are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone More

Nigerian President to Seek Another Term

Goodluck Jonathan has faced intense criticism for failing to stop Boko Haram militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid