The protease inhibitor Prezista (darunavir), a recommended antiretroviral (ARV) for those taking HIV treatment for the first time, is associated with an elevated risk of cardiovascular disease, Reuters Health reports.

Publishing their findings in The Lancet HIV, researchers studied data on 35,711 HIV-positive participants in the D:A:D study, which includes individuals in 11 cohorts in Australia, Europe and the United States. The participants were followed for a median 6.96 years between January 2009 and February 2016.

During the study period, 3.2 percent of the participants experienced a cardiovascular disease–related health event. This translated to a rate of 5.34 such events per cumulative 1,000 years of follow-up.

Upon their entry into the study, 18.4 percent of the participants had taken Norvir (ritonavir)-boosted Reyataz (atazanavir), another protease inhibitor, and 4 percent had taken Norvir-boosted Prezista. By the end of their time in the study, a respective 26.6 percent and 22.3 percent of the participants had taken Norvir-boosted Reyataz and Prezista.

After adjusting the data for various factors associated with cardiovascular disease, the researchers found that each relative increase of five years of boosted Prezista use was associated with a 59 percent increased risk of cardiovascular disease. There was no such significant association between boosted Reyataz and this form of disease.

To read the study abstract, click here.