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Intestinal Bacteria May Fuel Inflammation and Worsen HIV Disease

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Changes in intestinal bacteria may help explain why successfully treated HIV patients nonetheless experience life-shortening chronic diseases earlier than those who are uninfected, according to a new study led by UC San Francisco.

These changes in gut bacteria may perpetuate inflammation initially triggered by the body’s immune response to HIV, researchers reported.

Their study was published online July 10 in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

The new findings support recent research pointing to such persistent inflammation is a possible cause of the early onset of common chronic diseases found in HIV patients, who now can live for decades without immune system destruction and death due to infection thanks to lifelong treatment with antiretroviral drugs. Likewise, in the general population, ongoing inflammation has been linked in some studies to chronic conditions, such as heart disease, dementia and obesity.

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