HIV-positive children ill with measles may get a temporary respite from the virus that causes AIDS. Levels of HIV are suppressed while measles infection rages, the team found. "We were surprised by these findings, because we expected to see HIV replication increase, not decrease with measles," Dr. William Moss, who led the study, said. He said measles usually suppresses the immune system.
Researchers said the children with both HIV and measles had higher than normal levels of CD8 T-cells, which are a measure of immune response. These elevated levels of CD8 cells, also known as killer T-cells, were found at the same time the children had suppressed levels of HIV in their blood. After the children recovered from their bouts with measles, viral levels went back up.
More research will be needed with a larger study group to fully understand how measles suppresses HIV and activates the immune system. The only other infection that has been found to suppress HIV is scrub typhus, caused by the Orientia tsutsugamushi bacterium.