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BioMed Research International
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 758682, 7 pages
Review Article

The Role of Red Blood Cells in Enhancing or Preventing HIV Infection and Other Diseases

1University of Botswana, Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, Gaborone, Botswana
2Oxidative Stress Research Centre, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health & Wellness Sciences, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Bellville 7535, South Africa

Received 3 June 2013; Accepted 13 September 2013

Academic Editor: Esteban Martinez

Copyright © 2013 Modisa S. Motswaledi et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Aim. To highlight the apparently neglected role of erythrocyte antigens in the epidemiology of infectious diseases, especially HIV, with the prime objective of stimulating research in this area. Method. A literature search was performed on the PubMed for relevant papers from 1984 to 2013, the era covering active HIV research. This was achieved by using the phrases “erythrocyte blood groups HIV” (81 papers) or “red cell antigen, blood groups, and HIV” (60 papers). A manual Google Scholar search was done and supplemented by original papers referenced by various authors. However, the review was limited by the relative scarcity of papers on the subject, and only papers written in English were reviewed during the period October 2012 to September 2013. Results. Many communicable and noncommunicable diseases are associated with specific blood groups. Examples of these diseases are discussed in detail. HIV has been shown to bind to erythrocytes, and candidate erythrocyte-binding molecules and mechanisms are also discussed. Moreover, erythrocyte-HIV binding is associated with increased viral infectivity, thus, underscoring the need to study this phenomenon and its implications for HIV epidemiology. Conclusion. Erythrocyte antigens may be important in the pathogenesis and epidemiology of many diseases, including HIV.