A study by researchers in France shows that HIV-positive people are more likely to have common risk factors for coronary heart disease than those not infected with the virus, Reuters Health reports. Researchers in Bordeaux evaluated the cardiovascular risk factors among 223 HIV-positive adults and 527 HIV-negative men and women. The HIV-positive men were more likely than HIV-negative men to smoke and have higher waist-to-hip ratios and higher triglyceride levels, all of which have been identified as heart disease risk factors. HIV-positive men also were more likely to have lower-than-average levels of HDL or "good" cholesterol. The HIV-positive women in the study had risk factors similar to those of the HIV-positive men, but the women also had high overall cholesterol levels.
Based on the study data, the researchers determined that HIV-positive men have a 20% higher risk of heart diseases that HIV-negative men and that HIV-positive women have a 59% higher risk. The first step HIV-positive people should take to reduce that risk is to stop smoking, the researchers say. They also recommend that doctors thoroughly screen HIV-positive patients for heart disease risk factors, including smoking habits, exercise activity, and a family history of cardiovascular disease. The full report appears in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.