Although iron supplementation is considered beneficial for groups at risk for anemia, concern has been raised that it could be harmful during human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Studies suggest: (1) faster HIV disease progression in thalassemia major patients receiving inadequate doses of iron-chelating drug; (2) higher mortality among patients receiving iron supplementation with dapsone compared with aerosolized pentamidine for prophylaxis against Pneumocytis carinii pneumonia; (3) higher iron stores and mortality among patients with haptoglobin Hp 2-2 phenotype; and (4) shorter survival among patients with high bone marrow iron deposition. These studies largely involved men in developed countries. Among HIV-infected pregnant women in Africa with a high prevalence of iron deficiency, no relationship was found between indicators of iron status and HIV disease severity. The available data do not contraindicate the current practice of iron supplementation in developing countries where there is a high prevalence of both HIV infection and iron deficiency.
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