Serious non-AIDS-defining illnesses are common in people recently diagnosed with HIV, Spanish investigators report in the online edition of AIDS. “Clinicians should be aware that during the initial follow-up after HIV diagnosis NAE [non-AIDS events] do occur,” comment the authors. “Older patients and those presenting with lower CD4 cell counts and higher viral load are at increased risk of their occurrence.”
However, the research also showed that HIV treatment reduced the risk of non-AIDS-related illnesses, especially kidney disease and psychiatric disorders including depression.
The introduction of effective antiretroviral treatment has lead to a significant change in the spectrum of illnesses seen in people with HIV. The AIDS-defining illnesses and cancers associated with immune suppression are becoming increasingly rare. In contrast, rates of non-AIDS-defining illnesses – such as cardiovascular disease, kidney disorders and liver disease – have increased. The exact reasons for this increase are unclear but may include ageing of the HIV-infected population, co-infections, the side-effects of some antiretroviral drugs, the inflammatory effects of HIV and lifestyle factors such as smoking.