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HIV Treatments Improve Health, but Nutritional Issues Remain

Despite the success of highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART), people with HIV may still be at higher risk for nutritional deficiencies and abnormalities. //

In two different studies, researchers at the Nutrition/Infection Unit in the Department of Public Health and Family Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine, and colleagues examined the incidence of metabolic syndrome and existing micronutrient deficiencies among participants in the Nutrition for Healthy Living (NFHL) study, a cohort with HIV. Both studies were published in the December 1st issue of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes, reporting that a high percentage of people with HIV have the same two defining characteristics of metabolic syndrome, and that people with HIV may be at risk for zinc deficiency.

Metabolic syndrome is defined as having three or more of the following medical conditions; low levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or ‘good’) cholesterol, hypertension, abdominal obesity, high levels of serum glucose (blood sugar), and/or hypertriglyceridemia, which is an elevation of triglycerides (fatty compounds) in the blood. Metabolic syndrome is often associated with obesity and related diseases like diabetes, but characteristics of metabolic syndrome have been observed among patients with HIV both before and after the introduction of HAART.

To investigate the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in populations with HIV, corresponding author Denise Jacobson, PhD, MPH, assistant professor at Tufts University School of Medicine, along with Christine Wanke, MD, and Sherwood Gorbach, MD, both of the Nutrition/Infection Unit and senior authors on the study, worked with colleagues to compare the incidence of metabolic syndrome among nearly 500 participants in the NFHL study to the population as a whole, using data from 1,900 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

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