Background: HIV-infected adults display increased cardiovascular disease, probably driven by inflammation and immune activation. These relationships have not been addressed in vertically HIV-infected children and adolescents, a population at very high risk for long-term non-AIDS complications.
Methods: Carotid intima media thickness (IMT) was measured in a cohort of HIV-infected children and adolescents and healthy controls. C-reactive protein and markers of immune activation (CD38+HLA-DR+) and immune senescence (CD28−CD57+) were determined.
Results: One hundred fifty HIV-infected patients and 150 controls were included, 64.8% female. IMT was thicker in HIV-infected patients (0.434 mm ± 0.025 vs. 0.424 mm ± 0.018, P < 0.001). After adjustment by age, sex, body mass index, and smoking status, HIV infection was independently associated with thicker IMT (odds ratio, 2.28; 95% confidence interval: 1.25 to 4.13; P = 0.007). Among HIV-related variables, a low CD4 nadir was related to an increased IMT. Although HIV-infected subjects presented higher frequencies of activated CD4+ and CD8+ T cells (P = 0.002 and P = 0.087, respectively), no relation was found between IMT and inflammation, immune activation, or senescence.
Conclusions: Structural changes of the vasculature present early in vertically HIV-infected subjects as well as immune activation and senescence. These patients should be carefully monitored for the prompt detection and early treatment of cardiovascular disease.