Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a convoluted autoimmune and inflammatory disease of the central nervous system (CNS) in which the protective myelin sheath is eroded and the underlying nerve fibers are damaged. There is no conclusive knowledge on the role played by different etiological factors in its development, and studies have shown that it primarily results due to complex interactions between the genetic, geographic and infectious components. Among the risk factors reported to have a possible role in MS development, retroviruses also appear to influence it. Studies suggest human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection to be inversely related to MS risk, but to date, the association between the two remains enigmatic. This protective inverse association has become an area of active research and the most plausible explanations for this may be immune suppression and/or antiretroviral medications. The purpose of writing this chapter is to provide background information on the unfathomable relationship between HIV infection and the risk of developing MS while at the same time providing description of the insights garnered from recent studies. While highlighting the application of ART (antiretroviral therapy) as budding future alternative for MS management, this chapter provides momentum for further studies.
Part of the book: Trending Topics in Multiple Sclerosis