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Hormone Supplement Boosts Quality of Life in HIV Patients

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DHEA is widely available without a prescription. Should the study results encourage consumers to dose themselves? "This is only a preliminary study; if someone wants definitive evidence, they need to wait," says Rabkin. "On the other hand, DHEA is a fairly benign product, so there isn't a great cost in trying it." She warns that no one should take DHEA unless they are experiencing specific indications that would make it suitable. "Consumers should only use DHEA if they have certain symptoms, such as fatigue or depressed mood. Then they need to observe themselves and see if there is a noticeable difference in those symptoms after a period of treatment."

Since this pilot study did indicate DHEA has useful effects for HIV, the next step should be a larger study with more rigorous scientific procedures. Study authors believe they will be funded for this research, and Rabkin expects to begin such a study by late spring.

"The medications used in HIV/AIDS often compromise muscle mass and the ability to maintain body weight in a healthy way," says Cover. "We are looking forward very much to further testing of this compound in people living with HIV and AIDS."

Vital Information:

  • DHEA is a hormone produced by the adrenal gland, and it is widely available as a supplement without prescription.
  • In a recent study of HIV-positive patients, those taking DHEA experienced more energy, improved mood, more interest in sex, and increased muscle mass.
  • This study is still considered preliminary, and knowledge about the supplement is limited since it hasn't been widely tested.
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