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Complexing AIDS.

Many AIDS victims develop anemia, and the blood transfusions they receive often cause more of an improvement than would be expected just from treating the anemia. Researchers from St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Medical Center in New York City have an explanation for the observation, and have found that transfusing patients more frequently than would be the case for anemia can prolong their lives.

People with AIDS have abnormally high levels of circulating immune complexes -- agglomerations of antibodies and antigens. The complexes are usually removed by red blood cells that bind to them and take them to the liver for processing, says George F. McKinley of St. Luke's. When AIDS patients are transfused with packed red cells, the number of complexes, which probably include AIDS viruses, goes down in five days.

He and his colleagues tried more frequent transfusions to reduce the complexes in 21 patients; the mean survival after diagnosis was 370 days, compared with 249 days for control patients who received a conventional number of transfusions. Eventually the transfusions stop reducing the number of complexes. "It's not a cure," says McKinley, "but it is a delay."
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Author:Silberner, Joanne
Publication:Science News
Date:Oct 26, 1985
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