About Two-Thirds of HIV-Positive People in U.S. Overweight, Obese, Study Says
About two-thirds of HIV-positive people in the U.S. might be overweight or obese, "mirroring" the total U.S. population, according to a study released Thursday at the 45th Annual Meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America in San Diego, the AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports.
For the study, Nancy Crum-Cianflone of TriService AIDS Clinical Consortium in San Diego and colleagues examined medical records of 663 HIV-positive patients at U.S. Navy hospitals in San Diego and Maryland. The researchers considered medication records, how long participants had been HIV-positive and whether participants had a history of diabetes or high blood pressure.
The study found that 63% of participants were either overweight or obese and that 3% were underweight. About 30% of participants who had progressed to AIDS were overweight or obese, the study found. The study did not find a connection between antiretroviral drugs and weight gain. Participants with weight gain put on an average of 13 pounds over 10 years, the study found. In addition, the study found that people who contracted HIV at younger ages, those who had been HIV-positive for a longer time and those who had high blood pressure were at a higher risk of becoming overweight or obese.
None of the participants had "wasting" syndrome, which is characterized by the uncontrollable loss of 10% of body weight, as well as fever and diarrhea. Wasting syndrome was common among people living with HIV/AIDS when the virus was first discovered, the AP/Post-Intelligencer reports.
According to the AP/Post-Intelligencer, the study's findings are "particularly striking" because many of the study participants were in the military or were military spouses, who tend to be in better physical shape than the general population. Earlier research had found that about 40% of HIV-positive people are overweight.
Some experts said there could be psychological reasons for the weight gain and that some HIV-positive people might be gaining weight to avoid wasting syndrome. In addition, HIV-positive people are living longer and might be prone to poor eating and exercise habits, the AP/Post-Intelligencer reports.
"We used to worry that [HIV-positive people] would lose weight and become wasted," Crum-Cianflone said, adding, "Maybe we should redirect our concerns to making sure they are maintaining a healthy, normal weight." John Brooks -- an epidemiologist in HIV/AIDS prevention at CDC who did not participate in the study -- said, "It's very clear now that HIV is no longer a wasting disease in America" (Chang, AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 10/4).