Living with HIV while on antiretroviral therapy usually means that an individual will have or will experience secondary conditions. Quality of life and overall life expectancy have continued to rise, yet there is room for improvement. This is especially the case when certain conditions can signal progression in the disease – such as zinc deficiency and inflammation.

Inflammation and HIV

Inflammation is an immune response that can become overactive with HIV treatment. Efforts to understand what causes this to happen, and how to reduce the inflammation, have been the focal point for a number of research projects around the world. One particular study linked a lack of zinc to higher rates of inflammation.

Zinc Deficiency and Inflammation

The study helped to link a deficiency in the nutrient zinc—a condition that is commonly found in those who are HIV-positive—and inflammation. Through a close examination of hundreds of patients with HIV who are on antiretroviral therapy, they were able to acquire information specific to this topic. Rigorous gathering of statistics, diet information, blood samples, interviews, and other samples was necessary to confirm the findings.

Certain biomarkers used to identify inflammation can be used to analyze the progression of the condition. One of those markers relates to zinc. The higher the concentration of the marker, the less zinc there was. This deficiency could help with gaining better control over the effects of the infection.  If confirmed that this is the case, it could lead to relieving some symptoms from sufferers and improve quality of life. Scientists are also hoping that other groups would likewise benefit from these results.

More Questions About Zinc Deficiency Than Answers

While the link between the biomarker and the lack of zinc are clear, a few questions were raised. For one, researchers are not sure if the inflammation is caused or aided by the lack of zinc. It could be that zinc deficiency is the result of the inflammation. Along with these issues, there are some doubts that simply increasing zinc in one’s diet would help rectify the problem. In order to be conclusive, more information is needed.