Age-related Diseases don't Occur Earlier in HIV-infected Patients

Despite previous research suggesting HIV patients have an increased likelihood of suffering from a heart attack, kidney failure, or cancer, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health investigators showed the age they encounter these conditions were similar to their uninfected counterparts.

Despite previous research suggesting HIV patients have an increased likelihood of suffering from a heart attack, kidney failure, or cancer, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health investigators showed the age they encounter these conditions were similar to their uninfected counterparts.

For their study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, researchers looked at the data of 98,687 veterans — 31% being HIV positive. To determine if HIV influenced age in which several diseases occur, they looked for myocardial infarction (MI), end-stage renal disease (ESRD), and non-AIDS-defining cancers (NADC) outcomes, and compared the ages when the incidents occurred to uninfected subjects.

From the 689 MI, 1,135 ESRD, and 4,179 NADC diagnoses occurring during the study period, the researchers noted the “mean age at MI (adjusted mean difference: -0.11 (95% confidence interval [-0.59, 0.37] years) and NADC (adjusted mean difference: -0.10 [-0.30, 0.10] years), did not differ by HIV status”. However, HIV-infected adults were diagnosed with ESRD were “at an average age of 5.5 months younger than uninfected adults (adjusted mean difference: -0.46 [-0.86, -0.07] years)”.

The authors supported previous research in that they found HIV-patients had a higher occurrence rate of all three conditions than uninfected persons.

"We did not find conclusive evidence to suggest that screening for these diseases should occur at younger ages in HIV-infected compared with uninfected adults,” said Keri N. Althoff, PhD, MPH, an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology at the Bloomberg School and the study’s lead author.

While their findings indicate the successes of antiretroviral therapy (ART) — one being their increase in life expectancy — HIV-infected patients have long claimed their quality of life is still subpar, causing them to feel they are aging faster.

Althoff echoed their sentiments, and cautioned their findings didn’t indicate that HIV patients are just as healthy as uninfected individuals.

"Many HIV-infected adults feel older than their age," she said. "Our study looks at three important age-related diseases and we find no meaningful difference in age at diagnosis. But this isn't the whole story. We need more research to figure out what is going on."