BY HIV Plus Editors
October 28 2009 11:00 PM ET
Need another reason to pay closer attention to your heart health? A new study suggests that HIV significantly boosts one's risks for hardening of the arteries and a buildup of arterial plaque'regardless of whether you're taking anti-HIV drugs to treat it.
Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, compared the thickness of the carotid arteries of more than 400 HIVers with those of HIV-negative adults and found that HIV infection alone resulted in atherosclerosis incidence on a par with that associated with smoking, which is a proven risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
"The effect [of HIV alone] is so big," the researchers conclude, "that no drug or class of drugs stands out as being an effective contributor" to increased atherosclerosis risk.