New research indicates that people living with HIV are at a higher risk of developing heart attacks, kidney failure and cancer. However, contrary to what many had believed, people with HIV are diagnosed with age-related diseases at similar ages as the general population.
“We did not find conclusive evidence to suggest that screening for these diseases should occur at younger ages in HIV-infected compared with uninfected adults,” said lead author of the study Keri Althoff.
Althoff and her colleagues from the Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore compared data from 98,687 HIV-positive and negative seniors. The researchers were then able to compare the ages at which each group was diagnosed with heart attacks, kidney failure and cancers unrelated to AIDS.
They found that PLHIV were diagnosed with kidney failure, on average, six months younger than the group without HIV. There were no statistically significant age differences at diagnoses between positive and negative cohorts for heart attacks or cancers unrelated to AIDS.
Althoff cautions though that just because the data shows the onset of these three diseases is similar between positive and negative people, it doesn’t mean those with HIV are just as healthy. “Many HIV-infected adults feel older than their age,” said Althoff. “Our study looks at three important age-related diseases and we find no meaningful difference in age at diagnosis. But this isn’t the whole story. We need more research to figure out what is going on.”