Zinc reduces diarrhea in HIV patients

Zinc supplementation cut the episodes of diarrhea in half, according to researchers from Florida International University in Miami during the International AIDS Conference in Mexico City.

First, the details.

  • 231 HIV-positive drug users with zinc deficiency received zinc supplements or a placebo for a year.
  • Men received 15 mg; women received 12 mg daily.
  • 62% were taking antiretroviral therapy.

And, the results.

  • Zinc supplementation cut the episodes of diarrhea in half.
  • The prevalence of diarrhea was 14% in the zinc-supplemented patients and 29% in placebo group.

The bottom line.
Zinc supplements produced a significant benefit even after accounting for confounding factors like highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), viral load, and CD4+ cell counts, the investigators concluded.

A similar study was presented in 2004 by these researchers. It’s not clear if this is a new study or a second report of that earlier study with a larger population.

Either way, it’s not a trivial condition. The incidence of diarrhea in patients with advanced HIV infection ranges from 30% to 70%. And low or marginally low zinc blood levels are reported in about 50% of patients, according to this review at the Support Chiro.org website.

There’s also a good review at The Body website.

8/27/08 17:59 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.