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HIV and helminth co-infection: is deworming necessary?


: Professor Zvi Bentwich M.D., Center for Infectious Diseases and AIDS, Department of Virology, Faculty of Health Sciences, Ben Gurion University, PO Box 653, Beer Sheba 84105, Israel (e-mail: and


We have previously suggested that helminth infections play a major role in the pathogenesis of HIV-1 infection in Africa and other developing areas, due to their profound effects on the host immune system, which make those infected more susceptible to HIV-1 infection and less able to cope with it. Chronic immune activation with a dominant Th2 profile, and anergy, are the hallmarks of chronic helminth infection, and may therefore account for most of these effects. In the present review, we summarize the studies that have addressed these issues and argue that despite some conflicting results, the cumulative immunological and epidemiological evidence is in favour of deworming as a preventive and possible therapeutic measure vis-à-vis HIV-1 infection. We suggest that it should be at least tested on a wider and larger scale than has been done until now, because of its immense potential impact on the still raging AIDS epidemic in developing countries.