Even in the era of suppressive antiretroviral therapy, people with HIV (PWH) suffer greater exposure to inflammation than their uninfected peers. Although poor social support and social isolation have been linked to systemic inflammation in the general population, it is not known whether this is true also among PWH.
People with and without HIV infection were enrolled in a community-based, single-center study. Primary predictors were the Medical Outcomes Study Social Support Survey, and outcomes were a panel of inflammatory biomarkers (ICAM-1, MCP-1, IL-6, IL-8, IP-10, C-reactive protein, D-dimer, VEGF, sCD14, and uPAR) in blood plasma and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).
PWH had worse positive social support (P = 0.0138) and affectionate support (P = 0.0078) than did HIV− individuals. A factor analysis was used to group the biomarkers into related categories separately for each fluid. Levels of 3 of the 4 plasma factors were significantly higher in PWH than HIV− (ps = 0.007, 0.001, and 0.0005, respectively). Levels of 1 of the 3 CSF factors also were significantly higher in PWH than HIV− (P = 0.0194). In the combined PWH and HIV− cohort, poorer social support was associated with higher levels of a factor in plasma loading on MCP-1, IL-8, and VEGF (P = 0.020) and with a CSF factor loading on MCP-1 and IL-6 (P = 0.006).
These results suggest that enhancing social support might be an intervention to reduce inflammation and its associated adverse outcomes among PWH.