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HIV and the immune system
Disease progression
Monitoring immune health
Symptom observation
Lab studies and blood analysis
CD4 + Testing
Viral Load Testing
Summary: Testing
Intervention against HIV
General health maintenance
Supportive therapies
Antiviral Strategy
Immune modulating strategy
Opportunistic infection strategy
When to start treatment
Available treatments
The Bottom Line

Immune modulating strategy

The goal of immune modulating medications is to increase the number or function of lost cells, such as CD4+ cells, to restore the balance of the various components of the immune system, or to diminish harmful activities caused by infected cells.

Because the immune system is sometimes suppressed, sometimes overactive, and sometimes misdirected in HIV, it makes sense to seek out medicines which might help correct some of these problems. This is easy to describe but difficult to do. Many researchers feel that we don't yet know enough about the immune system to try to regulate it. Some therapies have been shown to influence the immune system in studies, and similar claims have been made about some natural products. There is great popular appeal to the notion that we should somehow "boost the immune system" to help the body naturally regulate itself against HIV. For the most part, this is little more than an empty advertising slogan as there is little evidence that anyone really knows how to do this. Moreover, the body's natural defenses almost always seem to fail in the fight against HIV. Perhaps even more than the other types of intervention, it would be unrealistic to expect this approach alone to solve the problems of HIV.

In developing these types of therapies it is difficult to predict the overall effect because of the highly interdependent nature of most immune functions. Improving one area may harm another. At this point, there is no clear or simple strategy for addressing the defects of the immune system in HIV infection. Some of the most complete information on immune therapies is available in Project Inform documents such as the "Project Immune Restoration Discussion Paper".

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