From AIDS United via thebody.com…
It’s long been questioned if living with HIV, or using antiretroviral therapy (ART) to manage the virus, causes accelerated aging, but new research might finally be giving some answers. Journalist Marlene Cimons at the Washington Post spoke with several leading HIV/AIDS researchers who agree: starting treatment as soon as possible after diagnosis can help avoid the age-related diseases that have been seen developing at higher rates and at earlier ages in people living with HIV.
Age-related conditions — including heart, liver and kidney diseases, cancers, and bone fragility — have often been observed more frequently in people living with HIV. However, researchers have long rebuffed that it is more the traditional risk factors, such as lack of access to routine preventative care, poor nutrition, stress and substance use habits, that influences this increase as opposed to the presence of the virus itself or the medication used to treat it.
Researchers surveyed earlier this month by the Washington Post added a critical dimension to the current understanding of accelerated aging: the longer someone living with HIV goes without beginning antiretroviral therapy, the worse these long-term health outcomes are likely to be. HIV targets — and, at the same time, activates — the immune system, the body’s protection against pathogens. Once the immune system recognizes significant levels of the virus in the body, it never really stops fighting against it, even after levels are decreased using ART.