Anabolic Steroids Help People With HIV Gain Weight

Armen Hareyan's picture

Symptoms of HIV Treatment

People with HIV who are treated with anabolic steroids to prevent AIDS wasting may realize modest gains in weight and muscle mass, a new review shows.

The review covered 13 studies of adults age 24 to 42 with HIV, 294 of whom received anabolic steroids for at least six weeks and 238 of whom received placebo. The average weight increase in those taking anabolic steroids was nearly three pounds.


"The magnitude of weight gain observed may be considered clinically relevant," said lead author Karen Johns, a medical assessment officer from the agency Health Canada. "One hopes there would be greater weight gain with the long-term use of anabolic steroids; however, this has not been proven to date in clinical trials."

The review appears in the most recent issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research. Systematic reviews draw evidence-based conclusions about medical practice after considering both the content and quality of existing medical trials on a topic.

AIDS wasting, which leads to significant weight loss in people with HIV, causes severe loss of weight and muscle and can lead to muscle weakness, organ failure and shortened lifespan. Researchers have long sought to reverse this common, destructive effect of HIV with mixed success.

The wasting stems from loss of the body