‘Aspirin may prevent HIV infection’

A recent research has revealed that aspirin could significantly reduce inflammation associated with contracting HIV.

BY Staff Reporter

The pilot study, which was conducted by researchers from Manitoba, Waterloo and Nairobi universities, in addition to the Public Health Agency of Canada said, however, that it would take further studies and research to prove that aspirin, a cheap and widely used drug, was another effective tool for HIV prevention.

They warned that they were not yet suggesting that taking aspirin would prevent transmission of the disease until further research was carried out.

Since the early 1990s, researchers have been aware that HIV infection was associated with excessive inflammation.

Some researchers suspected that HIV-related inflammation weakened the immune system in particular and the body in general. One known drug that can partially reduce inflammation is aspirin.

For six weeks, the women were given either aspirin or hydroxychloroquine, another anti-inflammatory drug. The low dosage of aspirin was similar to the amount commonly used for long-term prevention of cardiovascular disease.

At no point in the study were the women exposed to HIV. Instead, researchers wanted to look at whether taking either of the drugs could lower the number of HIV target cells in the women’s female genital tracts.

The researchers’ hypothesis was that, by lowering activated immune cells – the cells proven to be more at risk of HIV infection – they could potentially lower the risk of the infection.

After six weeks on the drugs, researchers found that women who took aspirin saw those HIV target cells drop by 35%. Those taking hydroxychloroquine also saw a significant drop.

The findings were particularly promising, researchers said, because the number of HIV target cells among women who took aspirin were close to the number of HIV target cells among a unique group of Kenyan sex workers who, despite being regularly exposed to HIV, remain uninfected.


The study’s lead author Keith Fowke, head of the University of Manitoba’s department of medical microbiology and infectious diseases, said further research was needed to determine whether aspirin’s level of target cell reduction may actually prevent HIV infections.

“We just need to have the evidence that tells people that in addition to taking other HIV prevention measures, you could add onto that using aspirin,” Fowke said.

Kenneth Omollo, a PhD student with the University of Nairobi, who worked on the study, said the promising findings could make a major difference in his home country.

“It is a huge concern and there is a lot of efforts being put to towards halting new infections and getting those who are already infected on treatment,” he said.

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