Research has found that diabetes develops at an earlier age in people living with HIV than all other populations. Because HIV-positive people are living as long as those with a negative diagnosis, they have to deal with other morbidities relating to age, i.e. osteoporosis, heart disease, and for some, chronic metabolic diseases like diabetes. But a surprising figure emerged from a study published in the BMJ Open Diabetes Research and Care.
After analyzing data from the Medical Monitoring Project and from National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, it was found that the prevalence of diabetes in HIV-positive adults was 10.3 percent, which is 3.8 percent higher than general populations. Among this number, under 4 percent had type 1 diabetes, 52 percent had type 2, and 44 percent had unspecified diabetes.
While age and obesity increases the prevalence of diabetes, data suggests HIV-positive are likely to develop type 2 disease at a younger age, even if they aren’t obese.
As Plus previously reported, low-grade systemic inflammation could also be an underlying factor in the development of type 2 diabetes among HIV-positive people on antiretroviral medications. According to researchers, HIV-positive people that developed diabetes had significantly higher baseline levels of two inflammatory markers (including high-sensitivity C-reactive protein) than those who didn’t develop the disease.
Additionally, strategies aiming to improve insulin sensitivities were shown to be less effective among HIV-positive people in prior studies, which makes it more dyer to improve monitoring and managing diabetes in the HIV-positive community. And frankly, the sooner the better.
According to the World Health Organization, the number of people with diabetes has risen from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke and lower limb amputation. 1.5 million people died of the disease in 2012.
Editors note: A previous version of this piece mistakenly indicated the number of people living with diabetes was 108 million in 2014. That number was actually from 1980. Since then, the number has risen to 422 million worldwide.