Taking a multivitamin tablet every day may slow the progress of the AIDS virus and allow doctors to delay prescribing expensive drugs.
The suggestion has emerged from a clinical trial involving over 1,000 pregnant women with HIV in Tanzania. Those who took a daily dose of vitamins B, C and E for up to five years were around 50 per cent less likely to progress to full-blown AIDS than those who took a placebo treatment.
The findings described in the New England Journal of Medicine are important for developing countries, especially for pregnant women and new mothers who are nutritionally vulnerable. Lead author Wafaie Fawzi of the Harvard School of Public Health in the United States believes that multivitamins costing around US$15 a person each year would be a relatively cheap way to improve patient quality of life and to delay antiretroviral therapy.