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Statin drugs, used to lower cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of heart disease, could also directly interfere with HIV replication and slow HIV disease progression, Spanish researchers reported in August. Laboratory tests and animal studies showed that statin drugs seemed to work by preventing HIV from opening the membranes of uninfected immune system cells, which the virus must do in order to infect them, and also kept new copies of the virus from passing out through the membranes of infected cells. A study of six HIV-positive people not taking antiretroviral drugs showed that a one-month course of the statin drug lovastatin lowered viral loads and boosted CD4-cell counts, two key markers of HIV disease progression. Because statins do not have some of the toxicities of existing anti-HIV medications, the researchers say the drugs should be studied for potential use as antiretroviral agents.