The study found that 33 of the children diagnosed with measles and HIV had a median HIV level of 5,339 copies per milliliter when they first entered the hospital for treatment. The HIV levels increased to 60,121 copies per milliliter when measured at the time of discharge and to 387,148 copies per milliliter one month later. HIV-infected children who did not have acute measles had a median HIV level of 228,454 copies per milliliter.
The researchers also noticed that the CD8 T-cell level, which is an indicator of immune system response, was elevated in the children with both measles and HIV compared to children in the control groups. The increase in the CD8 level occurred during the same time as the suppression of HIV levels.
“More research will be needed with a larger study group to fully understand how measles suppresses HIV and activates the immune system, but our findings may provide clues to understanding both HIV pathogenesis and immunity,” says Diane Griffin, MD, PhD, professor and chair of the W. Harry Feinstone Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.