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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Pittsburgh-led Study Finds HIV-positive Men at Higher Risk of Developing Heart Disease Indicator

Men with HIV were at significantly higher risk for development of coronary artery calcium (CAC), an early sign of coronary heart disease, according to a large national study led by the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

Public Health faculty and staff
[Photo: Dr. Lawrence A. Kingsley]

In addition, the study identified two modifiable risk factors independently associated with increased incidence of CAC: smoking and increased insulin resistance. The results are published in the journal AIDS.

“Taken together, these findings underscore the potential importance for smoking cessation and interventions to improve insulin resistance among HIV-infected men,” lead author Dr. Lawrence A. Kingsley, professor in Pitt Public Health’s departments of infectious diseases and microbiology, and epidemiology, wrote in the publication.

The study looked at 825 men (541 HIV infected and 284 HIV uninfected) enrolled in the cardiovascular substudy of the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS). The men underwent regular cardiac CT imaging during a follow-up period averaging five years.

During follow-up, 21 percent of HIV-infected men developed CAC, compared with 16 percent of HIV-uninfected men. This association persisted after adjustment for traditional and HIV associated risk factors. However, there was no association between whether antibodies to HIV were detectable in the blood and CAC progression among men with CAC at baseline. There was also no evidence supporting an elevated risk for either CAC progression or incidence for having abnormal amounts of fat or cholesterol in the blood, or long-term use of antiretroviral therapy.

The discovery was made possible by using data and biologic specimens collected through the National Institutes of Health-funded MACS, a confidential research study of the natural history of untreated and treated HIV/AIDS in men who have sex with men that has been running for more than 30 years. The Pittsburgh arm of the study is the Pitt Men’s Study.

Additional authors on this study are Dr. Jennifer Deal, Dr. Lisa Jacobson, and Dr. Wendy S. Post, all of Johns Hopkins University; Dr. Matthew Budoff, and Dr. Mallory Witt, both of the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center; Dr. Frank Palella, of Northwestern University; and Dr. Bridget Calhoun, of Duquesne University.

To read the AIDS publication, visit