A new study has revealed that HIV infection could age those with it prematurely by an average of five years. Thanks to combination antiretroviral therapy, many people with HIV can be expected to live decades after being infected. Yet doctors have observed that these patients often show signs of premature ageing, researchers said.
The new study has applied a highly accurate biomarker to measure just how much HIV infection ages people at the biological level — an average of almost 5 years.
“The medical issues in treating people with HIV have changed,” said Howard Fox, Professor at the University of Nebraska Medical Centre in the US.
“We’re no longer as worried about infections that come from being immune-compromised. Now we worry about diseases related to ageing, like cardiovascular disease, neuro-cognitive impairment, and liver problems,” said Fox.
The tool used in the new study looks at epigenetic changes in people’s cells. Epigenetic changes affect the DNA, but not the DNA sequence.
Once they occur, they are passed down from one generation of cell to the next, influencing how genes are expressed.