In opposition to the popular and even professional medical view that protease inhibitors protect T-cells by suppressing viremia, we previously noted the finding in a study that Ritonavir's protection of T-cells from cell death was independent of any viral suppression. In the case of protease inhibitor Indinavir, another study makes a similar observation and claims the following:
The findings indicate that IDV interferes with cell-cycle progression in primary cells but does not directly affect apoptosis. It is concluded that IDV may prolong cell survival indirectly by inhibiting their entry into cell cycle. In individuals on PI therapy, PI-mediated effects could potentially modulate immunologic responses independently of antiviral activity against HIV. (Blood. 2001;98:383-389)
The study's title, The HIV protease inhibitor Indinavir inhibits cell-cycle progression in vitro in lymphocytes of HIV-infected and uninfected individuals also points to the fact that such mechanisms of the drug would be the same for those who are seronegative.