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Two-Thirds Of HIV-Positive People In US Overweight, Obese

Armen Hareyan's picture

About two-thirds of HIV-positive people in the U.S. might beoverweight or obese, "mirroring" the total U.S. population, accordingto a study released Thursday at the 45th Annual Meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America in San Diego, the AP/Los Angeles Times reports.

For the study, Nancy Crum-Cianflone of TriService AIDS Clinical Consortiumin San Diego and colleagues examined medical records of 663HIV-positive patients at U.S. Navy hospitals in San Diego and Maryland.The researchers considered medication records, how long participantshad been HIV-positive and whether participants had a history ofdiabetes or high blood pressure.

The study found that 63% ofparticipants were either overweight or obese and that 3% wereunderweight. About 30% of participants who had progressed to AIDS wereoverweight or obese, the study found. The study did not find aconnection between antiretroviral drugs and weight gain. Participantswith weight gain put on an average of 13 pounds over 10 years, thestudy found. In addition, the study found that people who contractedHIV at younger ages, those who had been HIV-positive for a longer timeand those who had high blood pressure were at a higher risk of becomingoverweight or obese.

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None of the participants had "wasting"syndrome, which is characterized by the uncontrollable loss of 10% ofbody weight, as well as fever and diarrhea. Wasting syndrome was commonamong people living with HIV/AIDS when the virus was first discovered,the AP/Times reports.

According to the AP/Times,the study's findings are "particularly striking" because many of thestudy participants were in the military or were military spouses, whotend to be in better physical shape than the general population.Earlier research had found that about 40% of HIV-positive people areoverweight.


Some experts said therecould be psychological reasons for the weight gain and that someHIV-positive people might be gaining weight to avoid wasting syndrome.In addition, HIV-positive people are living longer and might be proneto poor eating and exercise habits, the AP/Times reports.

"Weused to worry that [HIV-positive people] would lose weight and becomewasted," Crum-Cianflone said, adding, "Maybe we should redirect ourconcerns to making sure they are maintaining a healthy, normal weight."John Brooks -- an epidemiologist in HIV/AIDS prevention at CDC who did not participate in the study -- said, "It's very clear now that HIV is no longer a wasting disease in America" (Chang, AP/Los Angeles Times, 10/4).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyHIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . TheKaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service ofThe Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.