Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UC San Francisco Previously Published Works bannerUCSF

Lipid Abnormalities in Persons Living With HIV Infection.


Lipid abnormalities are prevalent among persons living with HIV infection and contribute to increasing the risk of cardiovascular events. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) is associated with lipid abnormalities, most commonly hypertriglyceridemia, but also increases in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and total cholesterol. Different classes of ART, and different drugs within classes, have differing effects on lipid levels, but in general newer drugs have more favourable effects compared with older ones. Low-level inflammation and chronic immune activation act on lipids through a variety of mechanisms to make them more atherogenic. As a consequence, risk is higher than would be expected for any given cholesterol level. Clinical outcome trials of cholesterol-lowering therapies have not yet been completed in people living with HIV, so that treatment decisions depend on extrapolation from studies in uninfected populations. Traditional risk assessment tools underestimate cardiovascular risk in individuals with HIV. Statins are the mainstay of lipid-lowering drug treatment; however, drug-drug interactions with ART must be considered. Simvastatin and lovastatin are contraindicated in patients taking protease inhibitors, and the dose of atorvastatin and rosuvastatin should be limited to 40 mg and 10 mg/d with some ART combinations. Switching from older forms of ART to lipid-friendly newer ones is a useful strategy as long as virologic suppression is maintained, but adding a statin lowers low-density lipoprotein cholesterol more effectively. Studies indicate that lipid abnormalities are not treated as aggressively in individuals living with HIV as they are in uninfected people, making this an opportunity to improve care.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View