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Potential Reduction in Heart Disease Risk for Individuals with HIV Affected by Statin Usage


Sep 10, 2023

Americans living with H.I.V. are defying expectations and living into older age. However, once they reach age 50, they face a range of health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, social isolation, and cognitive decline. As a result, medical research is now focused on finding new ways to keep older adults with H.I.V. healthier. One recent study found that a statin drug could significantly reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes among middle-aged and older adults with H.I.V. Academic hospitals have also established specialized clinics for older individuals with the virus, offering a range of medical services and support.

The number of Americans aged 50 and older diagnosed with H.I.V. has increased by 73% since 2011. Today, two-thirds of deaths in the H.I.V. population are caused by non-viral factors. Older individuals with H.I.V. face an elevated risk of diabetes, liver and kidney disease, osteoporosis, cognitive decline, and various cancers. However, the most pressing concern is the doubled risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those without the virus. By 2030, it is estimated that over three-quarters of the H.I.V. population in the Netherlands will have cardiovascular disease.

To combat this threat, the National Institutes of Health invested $100 million in a clinical trial called Reprieve, which tested a statin medication against a placebo. The trial showed that the drug reduced the risk of major cardiovascular events by over one-third. Experts anticipate that the statin tamped down chronic inflammation, a common issue in individuals with H.I.V., which can lead to plaque buildup in the arteries.

However, addressing the long-term care of people with H.I.V. involves more than just medications. Older individuals with H.I.V. often face an array of social problems, including poverty, loneliness, addiction, mental illness, stigma, and housing insecurity, which can exacerbate the challenges of aging. While there are programs and services available for aging individuals with H.I.V., they are often expensive and resource-intensive, leaving many individuals without access to high-quality care.

Despite the obstacles, older individuals with H.I.V. remain resilient and determined. They are seeking out the necessary care and treatments to defy the odds and continue living fulfilling lives.

By Editor

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