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Low Albumin Levels Are a Threat to Women

Low Albumin Levels Are a Threat to Women


A five-year study of nearly 2,000 HIV-positive women has shown that low levels of serum albumin, a liver protein that can be produced in insufficient quantities due to liver and kidney disease, can predict faster HIV disease progression and higher risk of death. The study showed that after three years, 98% of HIV-positive women who started taking anti-HIV drugs when their blood-based albumin levels were above 40 milligrams per liter were still living. Over 80% of women with albumin levels between 35 and 40 were still living, while only about half of those who began antiretroviral therapy with albumin counts under 35 were alive. The researchers, writing in the May edition of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, urged doctors to regularly screen HIV-positive women for albumin counts. They also wrote that falling albumin levels should prompt doctors to prescribe anti-HIV medications to HIV-positive women even if they still have relatively high CD4-cell counts and to change antiretroviral drug combinations in women already taking anti-HIV drugs.

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