Canada-Rwanda study concludes daily selenium supplementation can delay progression of infection in HIV+ patients

Results recently published in AIDS, the official journal of the International AIDS Society

Researchers associated with the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) guide study

TORONTO, Aug. 19, 2015 /CNW/ - A study looking into the effects of selenium supplementation in HIV+ patients in Rwanda's capital, Kigali, has found that daily supplementation significantly reduces the rate of CD4 cell count decline.

CD4 cells are a type of white blood cell that play a crucial role in protecting the body from infection.  The HIV virus attacks and destroys the CD4 cells of a person's immune system.  A low CD4 count is one of the ways to tell if a person living with HIV has progressed to full blown disease (AIDS).

According to UNAIDS, there were 200,000 people living with HIV in Rwanda in 2007, half of whom are women. There are 4,500 deaths per year due to AIDS related illnesses.

The two-year randomized controlled trial involved 300 HIV+ patients, who had not begun antiretroviral therapy (ART). The results showed a 43.8 per cent decrease in the rate of CD4 decline.

The study was conducted by medical professionals in Rwanda, guided by naturopathic doctor and former CCNM president Dr. Don Warren, ND. Former CCNM Director of Research Edward J. Mills PhD. and Dr. Dugald Seely, ND, current Director of Research at CCNM were co-investigators.

"After seeing remarkable results with routine daily selenium supplementation in a small group of AIDS patients in one of the slums of Nairobi, Kenya, and after reading the current literature on selenium and HIV/AIDS, I had the opportunity to present this information to physicians within the Rwanda Health Ministry. They responded with great interest and recommended that we conduct a fully randomized controlled study and provided several of their medical staff to participate in the trial," says Warren. "A Rwandan research team was formed with Dr. Julius Kamwesiga taking the lead in Rwanda as co-principal investigator.  The outcome of this study could have significant positive impact in the early treatment of HIV/AIDS in Africa and other affected areas."

Dr. D. J. McCready, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University was another member of the Canadian team. He had worked with Dr. James Farquharson, ND (a graduate of Laurier and CCNM) on the use of selenium with AIDS patients in Kenya in 2007 and having seen positive results wanted the evidence which this project was designed to elicit. "Working with the Canadian team and in Rwanda has been a very worthwhile personal and academic experience," says McCready.

"It was an honour to participate and contribute to this important trial led by an outstanding team of Rwandan investigators and physicians," says Dr. Dugald Seely, ND. "The fact that such a low cost natural intervention could have a real and positive impact on a disease that has ravaged Africa deserves serious consideration and broader application." 

Selenium is an essential trace mineral known for its antioxidant properties and for its role in preserving immune competency. The main source of selenium in the body comes from food; the amount of selenium in food depends on where the food is grown or raised. The levels of selenium in soils varies significantly around the world. Additional study will be required to see if similar benefit occurs in regions that are not naturally selenium deficient.

For almost forty years, the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) has been Canada's premier institute for education and research in naturopathic medicine.  CCNM educates and trains naturopathic doctors through its rigorous four-year, full-time program, culminating in the only naturopathic degree in Canada.  For more information, please visit 

SOURCE Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine

For further information: Karamjit Singh, Communications & Marketing Officer, Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, 416-498-1255 ext. 263,


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