Children and adolescents born with HIV are at greater risk for heart disease than their HIV-negative peers, The Miami Herald reports (, 6/24).

A University of Miami study, published in the June 2008 issue of the Journal of Pediatrics, showed that children and young adults living with HIV have 50 percent higher triglyceride levels, 6 percent higher total cholesterol, 10 percent higher LDL or “bad” cholesterol, and 13 percent lower HDL or “good” cholesterol than HIV-negative young people. Researchers attribute these risk factors to antiretroviral and protease inhibitor side effects as well as to the poor nutrition common with adolescents regardless of HIV status.

One of the study’s coauthors Dr. Tracie Miller has designed a program to teach HIV-positive youth about lifestyle shifts that may help lower their risk for heart complications in the future.

“These are teenagers in high school,” Miller told the Herald. “Their lunch tends to be a Big Mac or a Burger King. We try to point them in the right direction. We have a dietician who explains the risk factors and talks about nutrition and cardiac risks. They listen. Over time they change a little bit.”