Omega-3 and peptide supplementation may raise CD4 counts.




European Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Related Monographs

Consumer Data: Omega-3 Fatty Acids Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)
Professional Data: Omega-3 Fatty Acids Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS)


Although infection by the HIV virus is the accepted cause of AIDS, HIV infection and AIDS are not one and the same. The HIV virus is transmitted from person to person by direct contact with blood or body fluids such as lymph, semen, and vaginal secretions. Intimate sexual activity is the most common route of exposure to the virus. HIV is not spread through kissing or household contact such as sharing a drinking glass with an infected family member. Needle sharing among IV drug users is a major route of transmission. Pregnant women infected with HIV can pass the virus to their unborn babies. Exposure to infected blood or blood products in the health care setting is another possible means of infection, although this accounts for a very small number of AIDS cases.

In the early stages of HIV infection, as virus levels increase within the body, the infected individual may begin to experience symptoms of infection. Within the first 12 weeks of HIV infection, the patient may develop nonspecific symptoms that are similar to mononucleosis. They may include fever, night sweats, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue, among others. Another problem associated with HIV infection is weight loss.

Published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a recently conducted study examined the potential role of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in HIV positive patients. The study included 74 patients who were broken into 2 groups. The 38 patients in Group I received a standard supplementation formula, while the 36 in Group II were supplemented with a peptide and omega-3 fatty acid enriched formula. Each individual consumed 3 cans of formula daily. Nutritional status, immune function, GI symptoms, health events as well as anthropometric status were assessed. At the completion of this study both groups of HIV positive patients showed increased body weight. Most of the weight gain was in fat mass. The CD4 counts (helper cells that help body respond to viruses) were slightly increased in Group II, and after three months, CD4 counts still remained higher than in Group I. Although no statistical differences were noted, there were also fewer hospitalizations in Group II leading the authors to conclude that supplementation with the peptide and omega-3 fatty acids formula increased the CD4 count.1


1. de Luis Román DA, et al. Nutritional treatment for acquired immunodeficiency virus infection using an enterotropic peptide-based formula enriched with n-3 fatty acids: a randomized prospective trial.European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Dec 2001;55:1048-1052.