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HIV and its long-term impact on the gut
With the gut the largest part of our immune system, HIV hits this area the hardest in those early days of transmission before diagnosis and before antiretroviral therapy (ART) – but even with ART, what does this mean for the long-term health of people living with HIV? Heather Ellis, communications and engagement coordinator with Positive Women Victoria, who was diagnosed with HIV in 1995, spoke to infectious diseases and HIV Cure expert Professor Sharon Lewin, as part of Positive Women Victoria’s health promotion webinar series.
“T-cells in blood will recover to normal levels, but the gut T-cells never really recover back to completely normal levels. And that means that the gut barrier is not as tight for people living with HIV. Normally, these tight junctions are where the cells stick really tightly together, but if there’s a disruption or a break, then fragments of the bacteria can move through and into the bloodstream.”