By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com November 04 2009 11:00 AM ET

After several years of reporting increasing numbers of heart attacks among HIVers taking antiretroviral medications, incidents of cardiac complications may finally be falling -- and approaching levels seen among HIV-negative adults, according to data presented at the 16th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections.

A review of patient data from more than 20,000 HIVers and 203,500 HIV-negative adults in the Kaiser Permanente California health system during the past 12 years has shown that although HIVers were more likely to be hospitalized for myocardial infarction in 1996, the difference between the two groups narrowed over time. Today, the rates are virtually the same, Kaiser officials say.

The decline in heart complications is attributed to three main factors: (1) a shift toward use of newer anti-HIV meds that do not raise blood lipid levels, (2) increased use of lipid-lowering medications, and (3) more effective management of other cardiovascular risk factors.