AIDS and COVID-19 are two diseases separated by a common lymphocytopenia

The study “AIDS and COVID-19 are two diseases separated by a common lymphocytopenia” examines the immunological responses elicited by HIV and SARS-CoV-2 infections.

Here’s a detailed summary:

Background: The study focuses on comparing the immunological responses in AIDS and COVID-19, particularly analyzing lymphocyte subpopulations using flow cytometry analysis (FCA). Both diseases, caused by HIV and SARS-CoV-2 respectively, are known for significant lymphocyte count alterations, despite differences in infection mechanisms, clinical presentations, and treatments​​.

Methodology: The study retrospectively examined 184 HIV-infected patients and compared their FCA results with those of 110 SARS-CoV-2 infected patients. The patients were referred to a University Hospital in Rome, Italy, and both groups of patients were examined at the presentation of their disease​​.

Key Findings:

  • Both HIV and SARS-CoV-2 were observed to cause significant changes in lymphocyte counts, with both similarities and differences noted between the two diseases.
  • A comparable reduction in B cells was observed in both AIDS and COVID-19 patients.
  • A more severe reduction in the total amount of T cells was noted in COVID-19 compared to AIDS patients.
  • CD4+ T cells showed a similar level of reduction in both diseases.
  • A notable difference was observed in the CD8+ T cell counts: AIDS patients had slightly higher than normal CD8+ cells, whereas COVID-19 patients exhibited a markedly reduced count.
  • Consequently, the CD4+/CD8+ ratio was very low in AIDS and higher than normal in COVID-19 patients.
  • NK cells were reduced in both diseases, but the reduction was more severe in COVID-19 patients compared to HIV infection​​.


  • HIV and SARS-CoV-2, both RNA viruses capable of zoonotic transmission, have had a profound impact on global health.
  • The study highlighted the use of FCA as a critical tool in understanding the immunophenotypic profile of patients, providing essential insights into the T cell CD4+ subset reduction, which is a hallmark in the progression of HIV infection.
  • The study also discussed the mechanisms of CD4+ T cell depletion in HIV infection, which include accelerated destruction, hyperimmune activation, cytokine storm, and altered lymphocyte trafficking.
  • It was noted that the depletion of CD4+ T cells in HIV could be due to increased homing rates of these lymphocytes, a concept yet to be fully elucidated​​.


  • The study concludes that HIV/AIDS and SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 share similarities and significant differences in their impact on the immune system.
  • Both viruses cause a comparable reduction in CD4+ T cells, but differ in their effects on CD8+ T cell subpopulations and NK cells.
  • The findings underscore the distinct ways in which the immune system reacts to these two infections and highlight the importance of understanding these differences and similarities for developing specific preventive and therapeutic approaches​​.

This study provides a comprehensive analysis of the immunological impacts of HIV and SARS-CoV-2, offering crucial insights into their distinct and overlapping effects on the human immune system.

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