In Cameroun, 4.3 percent of the population is infected with HIV/AIDS, mostly women and girls between ages 15 and 49. Severe food insecurity has resulted, complicating the health problems of the patients. Spirulina (Spirulina platensis) is available and has been used as food in Cameroun, since it is a source of vitamins and protein (spirulina is 70% protein). This study evaluated the effect of spirulina with a healthy diet on CD4 blood counts and viral loads for six months on a group of patients who had untreated HIV.
There was a total of 169 patients, and they were divided into two groups. Those studied had CD4 counts above 400. Only one group received 10 grams per day of spirulina for six months. The patients were then followed without spirulina for an additional 6 months. Blood tests were done at 6 and 12 months.
At 6 months, 27 patients were dropped from the study either because of a screening error or because the CD4 counts dropped below 400. The subjects were predominantly women, representative of the patients in the general population. The group which took spirulina had significant improvement in their blood hemoglobin levels at 6 months. After 12 months the group which took spirulina had significant improvement in the fasting blood sugars.
The CD4 counts improved significantly at 6 and 12 months in the group taking spirulina, while the control group CD4 counts declined. The viral loads of the spirulina group declined during the study, while those of the control group increased. Infections such as malaria, sexually-transmitted disease, and Zona (herpes zoster) were reduced in the group taking spirulina.
CONCLUSION: Supplementation of spirulina in HIV patients may increase CD4 lymphocyte counts and hemoglobin counts, while reducing viral loads and opportunistic infections.
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