Middle-aged people living with HIV have a higher risk of silent cerebral small-vessel disease (CSVD), which is a key warning sign that an individual may progress to more serious neurocognitive conditions, aidsmap reports.

Publishing their findings in Clinical Infectious Diseases, French researchers conducted a cross-sectional study of 456 HIV-positive individuals age 50 and older and 156 matched controls who did not have the virus. They used MRIs to detect CSVD and severe CSVD. The participants were recruited between 2013 and 2016.

All the HIV-positive participants were on successful long-term antiretroviral treatment. The study excluded those who were coinfected with hepatitis C virus (HCV), had a substance abuse disorder and who had been diagnosed with a neurological disease.

Fifty-two percent of the people living with HIV had CSVD compared with 36 percent of the control subjects. One fifth of the group with HIV and 14 percent of the HIV-negative group had a severe case.

After adjusting their data to account for age, sex, alcohol use, blood pressure, blood lipids and cardiovascular disease, the researchers found that having HIV was associated with a 2.3-fold increased risk of CSVD. There was no such association between HIV and severe CSVD.

Among those living with HIV, having had a lowest-ever CD4 count below 200 was associated with a 1.5-fold increased risk of CSVD.

To read the aidsmap article, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.