Thanks to spectacular developments in the field of antiretrovirals, the reality of patients living with HIV has been transformed. It is possible today to have a normal life expectancy when you live with HIV. However, many studies suggest that the persistence of the virus, and the constant irritation it causes to the immune system, may lead to premature aging of the cardiovascular system.
Large cohort studies report increased risks of heart attacks and strokes in patients living with HIV. Some, but not all, of the antiretrovirals used to control the virus are involved in this increased risk. However doubts still remain about the exact role played by the infection. One important factor that contributes to the observed risk is smoking. On average, people living with HIV smoke more. In addition, a negative synergistic effect on cardiovascular health has been demonstrated with the combination of HIV infection and smoking. People living with HIV may derive even more benefits from adopting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, so that they may live normal lives both in quality and duration.