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Long-term HIV treatment may reduce risk for atherosclerosis
Date:8/4/2008

PITTSBURGH, Aug. 4 Antiretroviral drugs for HIV do not increase the risk for coronary atherosclerosis, a central risk factor for heart disease, according to a study led by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health to be published in the Aug. 8 issue of the journal AIDS and available online today. The results further suggest that antiretroviral therapy may offer men with HIV some protection against atherosclerosis hardening of the arteries, caused in part by high levels of cholesterol, smoking and other lifestyle factors.

The study, part of the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS) initiated in 1983, measured levels of coronary artery calcification (CAC) in nearly 950 HIV-positive and HIV-negative men by CT scanning completed between 2004 and 2006. Controlling for traditional atherosclerosis risk factors such as age, family history, smoking and blood pressure, the study team found that CAC scores were almost 60 percent lower in HIV-positive men who received highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) for more than eight years compared to HIV-negative men.

HAART, a course of treatment that involves the combination of three or more antiretrovirals, has been associated with an increase in cholesterol and other factors associated with atherosclerosis, leading some to question whether long-term use increases the risk of heart attack.

"When we first prescribed highly active antiretroviral therapy for HIV in 1995, we were concerned about how these drugs changed lipid levels in patients and whether they would increase atherosclerosis and ultimately lead to serious heart disease," said Lawrence Kingsley, Ph.D., study lead author and associate professor, Departments of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology and Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health. "While some studies have found an association between these antiretroviral treatments and increased risk of cardiovascular disease, we
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Contact: Michele D. Baum
BaumMD@upmc.edu
412-647-3555
University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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