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A study in the January edition of the American Heart Association journal Circulation shows that HIV-positive adults have a high risk of clogged and hardened arteries, and the arterial problems tend to worsen quickly. Researchers studied 148 HIV-positive adults and 63 age- and gender-matched HIV-negative subjects. Using ultrasound to measure the thickness of the carotid arteries in the neck, the study authors found the arteries to be considerably thicker in the HIV patients. A buildup of fatty plaque was found in 45% of the HIV-positive study subjects, compared to 24% of the HIV-negative adults. Artery thickness is an indication of atherosclerosis. The researchers say it is possible that HIV itself'not the antiretroviral drugs used to treat the disease'may be linked to the thicker arteries because patients with the most severe immune system damage had the worst atherosclerosis. The researchers recommend that physicians aggressively treat atherosclerosis risk factors in their HIV patients, including managing high cholesterol and high blood pressure.