There has been much discussion lately in the blog-o-sphere about accelerated aging among people living with HIV. The term “accelerated aging” refers to a collection of conditions (heart disease, bone loss, cancer and cognitive decline) that are more common in HIV-positive people in their 40s and early 50s, compared with HIV-negative people of the same age. There is a great deal of controversy about using this term given the lack of research in this area. Many argue that one cannot combine these conditions under the heading “aging.” Researchers are also unclear whether these conditions are a result of age, long-term HIV-infection, long-term use of highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART), or the presence of other infections. The researcher, Dr. Charles Emlet, sums up the research on his blog and links to a POZ article on the subject.
In another related article, Medscape writer Bob Roehr, interviews Steven G. Deeks, MD, a professor of medicine in residence at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), and codirector of the Population and Clinical Sciences Core at the UCSF-GIVI Center for AIDS Research. In the interview Dr. Deeks discusses the controversial topic of accelerated aging. He focuses on chronic low-level inflammation demonstrated among people living with HIV taking HAART. He states that while the presence of elevated markers for inflammation is “well accepted” among scientists, the effect is “not particularly dramatic.” Dr. Deeks suggests that more research needs to be done on the relationship between chronic inflammation and CMV disease. He adds that inflammation levels are much higher in people who are untreated with HAART than in those who are treated. His recommendation – “For now, lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise may be the most useful interventions. They have demonstrated efficacy in dampening immune overactivation and restoring a more normal homeostasis.”
I am sure that there will be much more to say about this topic. Add your thoughts, personal reflections or research updates here or on the “community” page.