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Being Alive
MEDICAL UPDATE: Role of CD8 in HIV Disease Progression
Mark Katz MD and reported by Jim Stoecker
September 5, 1993
Being Alive 1993 Sep 5: 1

One of the questions that researchers are always asking themselves is why some people with HIV progress more rapidly to serious disease than do others. More and more, they are looking at the role of CD8 cells. Many believe that CD8 includes some factor that plays an important role in stemming HIV replication. Researchers also note that there are four subsets of CD8 that have been shown to be increased in people with HIV.

In an attempt to better understand the role of CD8, one study took 98 HIV+ participants in the Men's Cohort Study (MACS) and followed the records of the group for some six years. About half the group progressed to AIDS during the course of the study. Researchers then compared the CD8 subset levels in the two groups to determine if there was any significant difference. They found that the group that progressed to AIDS had significantly higher levels of the CD8 subset called CD38. Researchers conclude then that a high level of CD38 may be associated with a greater chance of progressing to AIDS.

One's level of CD38, of course, is not information that is readily available to most people. This study, however, does point up the need for further research into the role of CD8 as a cofactor in HIV progression.