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Researchers examine link between HIV treatments and heart disease

In the early days of the AIDS epidemic, a positive diagnosis was virtually a death sentence.  Today, a person taking Anti-Retroviral medications can live long term with the disease as a chronic infection.

Clinical researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center will use a $3.8 million grant to investigate why people treated with Anti-Retrovirals for HIV have higher than average rates of heart disease and stroke.

Doctor Giovanni Schifitto is one of the leaders on the study, which will examine causes of a narrowing of the carotid arteries in these patients.

"If this process is doing damage to these neck vessels, it's likely also doing damage in other places. So, we can link them to strokes and heart attacks."

Researchers will measure test subjects over 50 years old for 3 years. The test group is made up of 180 individuals who are HIV positive and 90 who are negative.

"What is the effect of the virus versus what is the effect of the drug? That's actually what we want to do."

Schifitto believes the study could lead to new approaches to treatment.



Michelle Faust, MA, is a reporter/ producer whose work focuses strongly on issues related to health and health policy. She joined the WXXI newsroom in February 2014, and in short time became the lead producer on the Understanding the Affordable Care Act series. Michelle is a reporter with the health collaborative Side Effects and regularly contributes to The Innovation Trail. Working across media, she also produces packages for WXXI-TV’s weekly news magazine Need to Know.
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