Eli5: Why can’t regular blood transfusions be used to treat AIDS patients? Wouldn’t this dilute the amount of HIV and maintain CD4 cell count?



*prior to antiretroviral drugs

In: Biology

It infects T cells in your body, they exist in lymph nodes the gastrointestinal tract etc, so even IF you were able to remove all the infected blood and replace it, you still would have HIV in the T cells in the tissues, which would simply infect the blood again.

HIV isn’t just a blood disease, it’s just also found in the blood. It’s totally body invading and you really can’t do much about that. There’s too many organs and tissues that will retain the virus and as your blood travels through those tissues as it does, it’ll pick it back up and back to square one.

It’s like under 5% of the cd4 t cells that actually reside in the blood… The rest is in our organs, tissue, basically everywhere.


Because the virus isn’t just in the bloodstream. Just because it can be transmitted that way doesn’t mean that’s the only place it exists. The virus infects CD4+ cells, some of which are in the bloodstream, but more of which are in the lymphatic system, the gut, and a bunch of other tissues. A blood transfusion would only remove the viral particles in the blood, and the rest will remain where they are and continue to infect new CD4+ cells, so the person’s overall viral load would just go right back to where it was.

its mostly because the disease isnt solely tied ot the blood, it affects the T cells that exist in the lymph system and a few other places.

unless you completely strip the body of all of the affected cells doing this type of transfusions is ultimately a wasted effort.