01 February 2017

HIV-positive adults may have higher diabetes risk

Research indicates that patients who have survived longer with HIV might be more vulnerable to chronic conditions such as diabetes.

People infected with the virus that causes Aids may be more likely to develop diabetes, new research suggests.

Age and obesity

In the study, the prevalence of diabetes was almost four percent higher among HIV-positive adults than in the general population.

Researchers examined survey responses of 8,610 HIV-positive participants in the Medical Monitoring Project (MMP). They also analysed data from about 5,600 people in the general public who took the annual National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).

Read: Diagnosing diabetes

Of the MMP participants, 75 percent were men and nearly 60 percent were aged 45 or older. About 25 percent were obese; about 20 percent also had hepatitis C (HCV); and 90 percent had received antiretroviral therapy within the past year.

Of NHANES participants, about half were men aged 45 years and older; 36 percent were obese; and fewer than 2 percent had hepatitis C.

The study found that 10 percent of MMP participants had diabetes. Of these people, nearly four percent had type 1 diabetes, about half had type 2, and 44 percent had an unspecified type of diabetes. In comparison, slightly more than eight percent of the general population had diabetes.

Read: Type 1 diabetes linked to higher risk of some cancers

Diabetes among the HIV-positive adults increased with age, obesity and longer HIV-positive status.

HIV as a risk factor

These findings don't prove a cause-and-effect relationship. But the researchers noted that better treatment has enabled people to live longer with HIV, which may increase their risk for other chronic health issues, such as diabetes.

The study was published online in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care

"Although obesity is a risk factor for prevalent [diabetes] among HIV-infected adults, when compared with the general US adult population, [these] adults may have higher [diabetes mellitus] prevalence at younger ages, and in the absence of obesity," lead author Dr Alfonso Hernandez-Romieu and colleagues wrote in a journal news release.

Hernandez-Romieu is affiliated with the department of epidemiology at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health.

He said more research would be needed to determine whether diabetes screening guidelines should include HIV infection as a risk factor.

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Dr. May currently works as a fulltime endocrinologist and has been in private practice since 2004. He has a variety of interests, predominantly obesity and diabetes, but also sees patients with osteoporosis, thyroid disorders, men's health disorders, pituitary and adrenal disorders, polycystic ovaries, and disorders of growth. He is a leading member of several obesity and diabetes societies and runs a trial centre for new drugs.

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