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Role of HCV infection in the development of carotid atherosclerosis in a cohort of HIV-infected patients


HIV-infected patients have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Measurement of carotid artery intima-media-thickness (c-IMT) with colour-doppler-ultrasonography is a well-accepted, non-invasive method to assess carotid atherosclerosis.

Purpose of the study

To investigate whether HCV infection could be involved in the development of carotid atherosclerosis beside the well-known risk factors.

Patients and methods

In this cohort study, 322 consecutive HIV+ subjects were identified and enrolled between May 2009 and May 2010. A total of 153 patients were HIV/HCV co-infected, whereas 169 were HIV+ mono-infected; 237 patients were treated with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), and 85 subjects were HAART-naïve. All patients underwent at least one c-IMT measurement by the same examiner; an IMT of >0.9 mm was considered pathological.


Overall, 112/322 (35%) patients showed c-IMT >0.9. Table 1 shows the correlation between c-IMT and the following risk factors: age, cigarette smoking, intravenous drug use, CD4 cell count <200/mmc, CDC stage C of HIV infection, PI-based regimens and HCV co-infection. A significant statistical association between all considered factors and increased c-IMT was found. In particular, HCV co-infection showed a greater association in addition to older age, dyslipidemia, stage C of HIV infection.

Table 1


In this cohort, several risk factors seem contribute to inflammatory damage and c-IMT development. Among them, HCV co-infection has been identified as a major determinant of carotid atherosclerosis. If the role of HCV infection will be confirmed in further studies, HIV-HCV co-infected patients should be strictly monitored for the vascular status.

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Ferrara, S., Tartaglia, A., Santantonio, T. et al. Role of HCV infection in the development of carotid atherosclerosis in a cohort of HIV-infected patients. JIAS 13 (Suppl 4), P204 (2010).

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