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Top HIV Med. 2004 Jul-Aug;12(3):89-93.

Diagnosis and management of body morphology changes and lipid abnormalities associated with HIV Infection and its therapies.

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  • 1University of North Carolina, Chapell Hill, NC, USA.


Body-shape changes and lipid abnormalities are common metabolic disorders in HIV-infected persons. It is likely that numerous factors contribute to body-morphology changes, including antiretroviral therapy, HIV infection itself, and immune reconstitution under antiretroviral therapy. A recent large cross-sectional investigation, the Fat Redistribution and Metabolism (FRAM) study, suggests that lipoatrophy is the most common feature of body-shape changes. Recent findings suggest modest benefit in reversing fat wasting by switching to abacavir from stavudine or zidovudine but no benefit from rosiglitazone treatment or switching from protease inhibitor to nonnucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor therapy. Human growth hormone treatment reduces fat accumulation, but treatment is expensive and gains in this regard are lost when treatment is stopped. Guidelines for treating lipid abnormalities in the non-HIV-infected population generally apply to HIV-infected persons; however, drug-drug interactions and overlapping toxicities between HIV and lipid therapies must be recognized. Although antiretroviral agents can raise lipid levels, there are data to suggest that in the case of cholesterol, HIV therapy reverses HIV infection-induced reductions of all cholesterol subsets. There are conflicting data regarding whether there is increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality in the HIV-infected population. On balance, it appears that cardiovascular disease due to HIV-associated lipid disorders currently is a relatively infrequent problem, but once that is increasing in magnitude. This article summarizes a presentation by David A. Wohl, MD, at the February 2004 International AIDS Society-USA course in Atlanta.

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