The REPRIEVE study, a large international trial testing a statin drug for people with HIV, was halted ahead of schedule after interim results showed that the medication significantly reduces the risk for heart attacks, strokes and other major cardiovascular events.

A large body of research has shown that people living with HIV are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease. Statins, which lower cholesterol, reduce the risk for cardiovascular events and death in the general population, but their benefits for people with HIV were unknown.

REPRIEVE, the largest randomized HIV trial to date, enrolled nearly 7,800 HIV-positive people ages 40 to 75 who were on stable antiretroviral therapy. They had no prior history of cardiovascular disease and had comorbidities and laboratory values indicating low to moderate risk—a population that normally would not be advised to use statins. The study showed that participants randomly assigned to take pitavastatin once daily had a 35% lower risk for major cardiovascular events than those who took a placebo pill.

“The REPRIEVE study reflects the evolution of HIV science and progress from focusing mostly on approaches to treat and control the virus to finding ways to improve the overall health of people living with HIV,” says Hugh Auchincloss, MD, acting director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.