Metabolic syndrome as common in HIV-infected people as in general population

Since the emergence of new HIV therapies more than a decade ago, there has been a remarkable decrease in AIDS deaths. But physicians suspected these more potent medications led to unwanted side effects, such as unusual changes in body fat, elevations in cholesterol and triglycerides and other symptoms that characterize metabolic syndrome.

Kristin Mondy

Mondy says it’s important to replicate these findings, but she says a strength of this study is that researchers were able to look at significant numbers of African-American men and women. Among HIV-infected African-American women, the rate of obesity was almost 45 percent. She says with rates that high, it’s probably time to start investigating the efficacy of exercise and other weight-loss methods in HIV-infected people.

“The mortality risk from HIV still outweighs all other risks,” says Mondy. “But as therapies have improved and people are living longer, clinicians have to be concerned about these other health problems.”

And when it comes to metabolic syndrome, HIV-infected people aren’t the only group at risk.

“It is a global problem in our society,” Yarasheski says. “The metabolic syndrome is clearly too common in HIV-infected people, but it’s too common in everyone. This is a public-health problem, and it’s not limited to any particular group of people.”

Mondy K, Overton ET, Grubb J, Tong S, Seyfried W, Powderly W, Yarasheski K. Metabolic syndrome in HIV-infected patients from an urban, Midwestern U.S. outpatient population. Clinical Infectious Diseases, vol. 44: pp. 726-734. March 1, 2007 DOI: 10.1086/511679

This research was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.

Washington University School of Medicine’s full-time and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.