POZLife: Life from the Infected and Effected point of veiw.

AIDS & Anemia

Posted by pozlife on January 22, 2007

by John Bulloch, 365Gay.com Health

Treating HIV patients for anemia, a common complication of the infection, by transfusing them with blood depleted of white blood cells–a practice thought to make the treatment safer–makes no difference, researchers recently reported.

Up to 58% of people with HIV have anemia, a condition marked by the loss of oxygen-carrying red blood cells. One way to treat the complication is to give HIV patients donated blood. 

However, research has shown that the white blood cells in this transfused blood may accelerate HIV progression and leave patients vulnerable to other infections. So, many hospitals are now using blood depleted of white blood cells–called leukoreduced blood–to treat HIV patients. 

But in a study of 531 HIV patients, those who received leukoreduced red blood cells were actually 35% more likely to die over the next couple of years than were patients who received unmodified blood, according to Dr. Ann C. Collier of Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, Washington, and colleagues.

There were no differences between the two groups in infections following transfusion, while rates of pneumonia and other HIV-related infections were low among all patients. And on average, patients in both groups saw their HIV levels decline after transfusion–presumably because of stepped-up use of anti-HIV drugs, Collier’s team reports.

This study, the investigators write, “failed to confirm the hypotheses” that leukoreduction improves survival among HIV-infected patients requiring blood transfusion and that transfusing blood triggers greater HIV activity.

These findings, the authors note, are “especially important” since Canada and many European countries are now depleting white blood cells from all blood transfusions, and such a policy is being considered in the US.

According to Collier’s team, the findings “emphasize the importance of conducting rigorously controlled studies of effects of leukoreduction in different patient populations before adoption of a universal leukoreduction policy.”



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