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Starting HIV Meds Cuts Risk of Non-AIDS Illnesses

, by San Francisco AIDS Foundation

Researchers with Spain’s CoRIS study cohort have published new evidence that antiretroviral treatment protects against non-AIDS-related illnesses in people newly diagnosed with HIV.

The analysis included 5,185 individuals, most of whom (86.5%) had been diagnosed with HIV in 2004 or later (well after combination antiretroviral therapy became the standard of care). The most commonly reported non-AIDS events (NAEs) within a few years of diagnosis were psychiatric conditions (such as depression), liver disease, cancers, kidney problems, and cardiovascular disease. However, starting antiretroviral therapy was associated with lower rates of non-AIDS events.

“In patients newly diagnosed [with] HIV infection, NAEs are a significant cause of morbidity [illness] and mortality [death],” the authors noted. “Our results suggest a protective effect of antiretroviral therapy in the occurrence of NAEs, in particular of psychiatric and renal-related events.” [Click here to read the article abstract.]

Want to know more? A reader-friendly summary of the article is excerpted below and available in full at AIDSmap.com.

Starting HIV treatment reduces the risk of serious non-AIDS-related diseases

By Michael Carter

Published October 9, 2012

Serious non-AIDS-defining illnesses are common in people recently diagnosed with HIV, Spanish investigators report in the online edition of AIDS. “Clinicians should be aware that during the initial follow-up after HIV diagnosis NAE [non-AIDS events] do occur,” comment the authors. “Older patients and those presenting with lower CD4 cell counts and higher viral load are at increased risk of their occurrence.”

However, the research also showed that HIV treatment reduced the risk of non-AIDS-related illnesses, especially kidney disease and psychiatric disorders including depression.

The introduction of effective antiretroviral treatment has lead to a significant change in the spectrum of illnesses seen in people with HIV. The AIDS-defining illnesses and cancers associated with immune suppression are becoming increasingly rare. In contrast, rates of non-AIDS-defining illnesses—such as cardiovascular disease, kidney disorders and liver disease—have increased. The exact reasons for this increase are unclear, but may include ageing of the HIV-infected population, co-infections, the side-effects of some antiretroviral drugs, the inflammatory effects of HIV and lifestyle factors such as smoking….

Click here to read the full summary at AIDSmap.com.


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