Micronutrient supplementation in adults with HIV infection


Marianne E Visser1, Solange Durao2,David Sinclair3, James H Irlam4, Nandi Siegfried1

1. Cape Town, South Africa
2. South African Medical Research Council, Cochrane South Africa, Cape Town, South Africa
3. Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, Liverpool, UK
4. University of Cape Town, Primary Health Care Directorate, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa

Visser ME, Durao S, Sinclair D, Irlam JH, Siegfried N. Micronutrient supplementation in adults with HIV infection. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017, Issue 5. Art. No.: CD003650. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003650.pub4

Access the full-text article here: DOI/10.1002/14651858.CD003650.pub4/full


Micronutrient supplements for non-pregnant adults with HIV infection

Cochrane researchers conducted a review of the effects of micronutrient supplements for people living with HIV. This is an update of a Cochrane Review previously published in 2010. After searching for relevant trials up to 18 November 2016, the review authors included 33 trials. Thirteen of these trials included people not on HIV treatment and were conducted in Thailand, Peru, and eight African countries. Nineteen trials included people on HIV treatment and were conducted in North America, Europe, Brazil, Singapore, Thailand, Botswana, and Uganda. One trial from China did not state whether people living with HIV were on treatment or not. Some trials looked at the effects of taking supplements with multiple micronutrients whereas others looked at supplementation with single vitamins or minerals.

What are micronutrient supplements and how might they help people living with HIV?

Micronutrient supplements contain vitamins or minerals, or both, that are essential to good health. Many of these vitamins play important roles in maintaining the human immune system, which helps to fight off infections.

Infection with HIV causes a progressive destruction of the immune system, which leaves people vulnerable to frequent infections. Many people living with HIV, especially in low-income countries, are also undernourished and many consume diets deficient that these essential micronutrients. Supplementation could therefore help people living with HIV to stay healthy for longer by strengthening their immune system or assisting recovery from infections.

What the research says

Multiple micronutrients

Providing a daily supplement that contains multiple vitamins and minerals may have little or no effect on reducing deaths in people living with HIV, whether they are taking antiretroviral drugs or not (low certainty evidence). Daily supplements may have little or no effect on HIV disease progression as measured by CD4 cell count (low certainty evidence) or HIV viral load (low or moderate certainty evidence).

Single or dual micronutrients

We do not know whether supplements that contain single vitamins or minerals reduce deaths (very low certainty evidence) or slow disease progression (very low/low certainty evidence) in people living with HIV. Supplementation with vitamin A, D, zinc, or selenium may improve the level of each vitamin in a person's blood, especially those with low levels before supplementation (low/moderate certainty evidence).

These findings do not mean that an adequate dietary intake for people living with HIV is not important. It is also not a reason to deny micronutrient supplements for those in whom a deficiency has been clinically demonstrated, or who are unlikely to meet the recommended daily allowance of vitamins and minerals.