HIV Accelerates Aging – Victims should Exercise Caution on Age-related Diseases

Patients with HIV are five years older than their biological age mark, which carries a 19% mortality risk.

US – The effectiveness of antiretroviral therapies against human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has made it possible for patients to live for many decades after the infection. However, as various studies have warned, these antiretroviral therapies fail to curb one of the effects caused by the virus: premature aging.  An effect which, however, has been blamed by other research to antiretroviral drugs themselves.

Anyway, a new study conducted by researchers at the Medical Center of the University of Nebraska at Omaha (USA) shows that, on average and organic level, patients with HIV agealmost 5 years more than their biological age. A worrying aspect premature aging because this entails, among other consequences, is that age-related diseases develop more early.

As Howard Fox, co-author of the research published in the journal Molecular Cell, said that medical complications that occur in the treatment of people with HIV are no longer the same as yesteryear.  There is no longer a concern for infections derived from an immunocompromised state.  The current concern is about age – related diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment and liver problems.

To conduct the study, researchers analyzed epigenetic changes in cells of patients with HIV. Specifically, these epigenetic changes are alterations, while not altering the DNA sequence, alter the way in which the contents in the DNA genes are expressed.

Among these epigenetic changes highlights a chemical modification called ‘methylation’ that is, the addition of one or more methyl groups to a molecule, in this case the DNA-chain, which can alter the final form of the proteins encoded in the genes.

As noted by Trey Ideker, director of the study, from previous research ageing changes the pattern of methylation throughout the genome; an effect that some scientists call ‘genetic entropy’ or ‘genetic drift’.  And while the exact mechanism is unknown it explains these epigenetic changes that cause the appearance of the symptoms of aging can be measured in the cells of anyone.

To carry out the study, the authors obtained cell samples from 137 patients with HIV, treated with a combination of antiretroviral drugs, who were in good health and compared with those of 44 subjects who had not contracted the infection as control.

The results showed that HIV aging entailed an average 4.9 years on biological age. And as the authors noted, “this change correlates directly with an increased risk of mortality by 19%.”

Trey said that the examined effects of HIV on methylation showed a strong effect on aging. Fox also noted that one surprising aspect is that they found no differences in methylation patterns among people infected recently, that is, who had contracted HIV for less than five years and those with chronic infection; carrying the infection more than 12 years with the virus.

Healthy lifestyle

In short, it seems that premature aging is one of the first negative effects caused by HIV from the moment of infection.

So much so that, as the authors conclude that persons with HIV should be aware that they have an increased risk of age-related diseases and therefore adopt healthy lifestyles in relation to exercise, diet, alcohol and snuff to reduce this risk.

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  • Tsikhelasvili Zurabi
    April 24, 2016, 6:04 pm

    I became HIV-positive in 2013, But like most of the over 40 million positive Men/Women worldwide, I was infected by my long-term regular partner. The challenge for every positive person is to take back control of their lives, in "Living Positively" with the virus. I’d always believed that good health was never maintained only by taking medication. More than ever, HIV reinforced for me that health is not just physical health, but also mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. An important part of the healing process for me is to be active in HIV/AIDS education, support and advocacy. I volunteer in a number of HIV/AIDS organizations, and in particular Positive Men/Women, because the impact of HIV /AIDS on women is very different than from men. As once a HIV positive person, I will forever be grateful to God Almighty to reach me when i thought it is all over, Today am happy with my family living free after the medical doctor have confirmed my HIV status Negative, I have never in my life believed that HIV could be cured by any herbal medicine, I want to make sure that HIV never happens to anyone else. We can’t prevent HIV by punishment, by stigma and discrimination. It’s only through building a safe, supportive and caring environment and that positive people still have hope.


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