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Statins Might Help HIV Patients, Study Suggests

Preliminary research suggests that statins restrain the immune systems of HIV patients and may stave off progression of the AIDS-causing virus.

Although it's too soon to recommend the drug for this purpose, the findings of this small study raise the possibility that "there might be drugs that can help adjust the immune response in HIV patients whether they're taking AIDS medications or not," said Dr. Brian Agan, director of HIV research with the Infectious Disease Clinical Research Program at the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Md. He works with some of the study's authors.

It's not unusual for HIV patients to take these cholesterol-lowering drugs, because the medications commonly used to combat HIV can cause cholesterol levels to skyrocket.

Scientists have wondered if statins' anti-inflammatory properties might have benefits for HIV patients besides reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. In the new study, which was funded by the National Institutes of Health, researchers recruited 24 participants to randomly take either a high dose of Lipitor (atorvastatin) or a placebo.
 
 

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