Antiretroviral treatment has made it possible for people living with HIV to live an almost normal life. However, there is a notable gap in life expectancy between HIV positive individuals and those who are negative. This is attributed to the fact that ARV only suppresses the virus in the immune system. But pieces of the virus can still activate in the immune system causing inflammation.
Inflammation increases the chances of clogged arteries as well as increase cholesterol. This is the recipe for a heart attack. An individual living with HIV is at the risk of developing a heart attack and/or strokes twice as much as an HIV negative person. This can, in turn, reduce the life expectancy of the said individual.
All is not lost however as initial statistics propose that statins can be used to reduce inflammation in people living with HIV. Statins are usually used to control cholesterol and are given to individuals who are at a high risk of developing heart disease.
It is with this background that researchers in the United States funded by the US National Institutes of Health are conducting a trial on South Africans, Americans, Thais, Canadians and Brazilians in search of a way to prevent heart disease in this high-risk population.
6500 participants have been selected for the study and are aged between 40 and 75. All the participants will be given low doses of statins or a placebo to ascertain if it lowers the possibility of heart attacks and strokes. The participants will then be monitored for 6 years for purposes of checking their responses to the drug.
All the participants will be given low doses of statins or a placebo to ascertain if it lowers the possibility of heart attacks and strokes. The participants will then be monitored for 6 years for purposes of checking their responses to the drug.
What Impact would the Trial Have?
The researchers conducting the research want people living with HIV to live good lives and without the risk of heart attacks. When antiretroviral treatment is administered in good time, the virus can almost go unnoticeable. This is good news for HIV-positive people.
The bad news, however, is that as much as the virus lies undetectable, individuals living with HIV are susceptible to many other lifestyle conditions and this for them is a cause to worry. As it is right now, a normal healthy person is at a risk of getting a heart attack from the age of 50 and above.
But for people living with HIV, once they clock 40 years, they start thinking about it. This further emphasizes the importance of the trial in question as it provides hope for the HIV positive community. In the event of positive results, the trial will have a positive impact in the fight against HIV.
The trial will also help in reducing the number of deaths of HIV-positive people related to such lifestyle conditions as heart disease and/or stroke. The success of the trial will be another addition to the array of effective options to beat the virus.
Finally, if the trial is indeed successful, governments and other agencies involved across the globe should strive to provide the drugs for the high risk population.