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Open Forum Infect Dis. 2019 Dec 21;6(12):ofz531. doi: 10.1093/ofid/ofz531. eCollection 2019 Dec.

Polypharmacy, Drug-Drug Interactions, and Inappropriate Drugs: New Challenges in the Aging Population With HIV.

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Service of Clinical Pharmacology, Lausanne University Hospital and University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.
Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Western Switzerland, Geneva, Switzerland.
Service of Infectious Diseases, Lausanne University Hospital and University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.
Division of Infectious Diseases and Hospital Epidemiology, Departments of Medicine and Clinical Research, University Hospital of Basel and University of Basel, Switzerland.
Department of Molecular and Clinical Pharmacology, Institute of Translational Medicine, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK.



Antiretroviral therapy has transformed HIV infection from a deadly into a chronic condition. Aging people with HIV (PWH) are at higher risk of polypharmacy, potential drug-drug interactions (DDIs), and potentially inappropriate medications (PIMs). This study aims to compare prescribed drugs, polypharmacy, and potential DDIs between young (<65 years old) and elderly (≥65 years old) PWH. The prevalence of PIMs was assessed in elderly.


PWH from 2 centers within the Swiss HIV Cohort Study were asked to fill in a form with all their current medications. Polypharmacy was defined as being on ≥5 non-HIV drugs. PIMs were evaluated using Beers criteria. Potential DDIs for the most prescribed therapeutic classes were screened with the Liverpool interaction database.


Among the 996 PWH included, 122 were ≥65 years old. Polypharmacy was more frequent in the elderly group (44% vs 12%). Medications and potential DDIs differed according to the age group: cardiovascular drugs and related potential DDIs were more common in the elderly group (73% of forms included ≥1 cardiovascular drug; 11% of cardiovascular drugs involved potential DDIs), whereas central nervous system drugs were more prescribed and involved in potential DDIs in younger PWH (26%, 11%). Potential DDIs were mostly managed through dosage adjustments. PIMs were found in 31% of the elderly group.


Potential DDIs remain common, and PIMs constitute an additional burden for the elderly. It is important that prescribers develop and maintain a proactive approach for the recognition and management of DDIs and other prescribing issues frequently encountered in geriatric medicine.


HIV; aging; drug–drug interactions; elderly; inappropriate drugs; polypharmacy

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