Low Testosterone | HIV Treatment
Testosterone Replacement Therapy for HIV
The treating of HIV may be the most high profile application but the therapy is not limited to only this area. The therapy has strong implications in battling muscle wasting, diabetes, and advanced aging.
Learn More about low testosterone treatment of aging, diabetes and more.
Since the late 90s HIV treatment has included the use of androgens to improve energy and endurance in both HIV-positive men and women. Specifically, the use of testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) has been covered extensively over the past 2 decades in the medical and scientific community. TRT can and has been used to successfully alleviate many of the symptoms of HIV because many HIV-positive men suffer from a testosterone deficiency and a lower red blood cell (RBC) count – both of which can lead to decreased energy and a diminished quality of life.
As far back as 1998, Science Daily ran a piece on how testosterone injections can reduce fatigue and improve mood among men who test positive for HIV, and had similar effect in men with AIDS. In order to better understand the mechanism of action and the overall effect of TRT on patients, let’s go over the benefits and the risks.
Benefits of Testosterone Therapy for HIV Treatment
At a glance, the benefits are undeniable. Hypogonadism, or the reduced function of the gonads (i.e. testes and ovaries) is prevalent in HIV-positive men, and is the main contributing factor of testosterone deficiency. It is also responsible for weight loss, fatigue, bone mineral decrease, mood swings, and dwindling libido. Erectile dysfunction is not commonly caused by low levels of testosterone but testosterone therapy can help improve the problem.
In early 2000, a study led by Judith G. Rabkin and published in Arch Gen Psychiatry documented a small, placebo-controlled TRT trial with encouraging results. 70 men diagnosed with hypogonadism underwent a 6-week treatment. 74% of patients reported improved libido, while only 19% of placebo-treated patients reported similar feelings. 58% of TRT patients reported improved overall mood compared with 14% of placebo-treated patients. Additional improvements included increased muscle mass in TRT patients over 12 weeks.
Areas Improved from Testosterone therapy:
- Increase Libido
- Overall Mood
- Increased Muscle Mass
More recently in 2012, a double-blind placebo-controlled study in patients with chronic heart failure (CRF) found that TRT improved strength, increased body mass, and improved oxygen uptake. The 12-week exercise regimen saw improvements across the board for men treated with testosterone, specifically in grip strength and shuttle walk tests. The measure of inflammatory markers was unchanged across treated and placebo-treated patients.
Risks of Testosterone Therapy for HIV Treatment
The risks of TRT for HIV treatment are still not completely understood. The varied understanding is most likely due to the fact that testosterone underproduction is multifactorial – the causes are varied and difficult to pinpoint. Hypogonadism is only one of many suspected culprits. Additionally, TRT has side effects that are well-documented.
In 2011, the journal AIDS published a TRT report that indicated HIV-positive men undergoing TRT needed to have their RBC count monitored regularly due to the increased risk of polycythemia, the overproduction of red blood cells. Polycythemia can lead to dangerous blood clots.
While TRT certainly has documented benefits and can greatly improve a number of energy-related conditions in HIV-positive men, TRT also comes with the risk of polycythemia. Best treatment practices include constant monitoring of RBC count and regular follow-ups with treatment professionals.
As this is an area still being explored the information is extremely limited and confusing. Contact the staff at Ageonics Medical with any questions or concerns about low testosterone therapy.