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RESEARCH ARTICLE (Open Access)

HIV infection, aging and cardiovascular disease: epidemiology and prevention

Kathy Petoumenos A C and Signe W. Worm B

A The Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2010, Australia.

B Copenhagen HIV Program (CHIP), University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen DK-2200, Denmark.

C Corresponding author. Email: Kpetoumenos@kirby.unsw.edu.au

Sexual Health 8(4) 465-473 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/SH11020
Submitted: 8 February 2011  Accepted: 5 April 2011   Published: 29 July 2011

Abstract

In the developed world, HIV infection is now well managed with very effective and less toxic antiretroviral treatment. HIV-positive patients therefore are living longer, but are now faced by challenges associated with aging. Several non-AIDS associated morbidities are increased in this population, including cardiovascular disease (CVD). It is suggested that CVD occurs earlier among HIV-positive patients compared with HIV-negative patients, and at a higher rate. Several factors have been proposed to contribute to this. First, the traditional CVD risk factors are highly prevalent in this population. High rates of smoking, dyslipidaemia and a family history of CVD have been reported. This population is also aging, with estimates of more than 25% of HIV-positive patients in the developed world being over the age of 50. Antiretroviral treatment, both through its effect on lipids and through other, sometimes less well understood, mechanisms, has been linked to increased CVD risk. HIV infection, especially untreated, is a further contributing factor to increased CVD risk in HIV-positive patients. As the HIV-positive population continues to age, the risk of CVD will continue to increase. Guidelines for the management and prevention of CVD risk have been developed, and are largely modelled on those used in the general population. However, the data currently suggest that these interventions, such as the use of lipid-lowering medications and smoking cessation programs, remain quite low. A better understanding the mechanisms of CVD risk in this aging population and further efforts in improving uptake of prevention strategies will remain an important research area.

Additional keywords: AIDS, antiretroviral treatment, dislipidaemia, heart disease, myocardial infarction.


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