AIDS on ART is all you need? Study finds HIV may speed up body's aging process

With the advent of ART (antiretroviral therapy), AIDS is no longer a terminal disease with no cure. Patients who adhere to a conventional antiretroviral regimen can reduce their viral load to undetectable levels. Being able to live a normal life with a higher quality of life is no longer a luxury for people with AIDS, and some people even lump AIDS in with diabetes, believing that all they need to do is take their medication regularly.

However, a recent study has shown that HIV can cause patients to age faster in addition to damaging the body's immune system. UCLA researchers published an article in iScience on the acceleration of cellular aging by HIV infection, showing that HIV has an "early and substantial" effect on aging in infected individuals, with HIV-infected individuals living nearly five years shorter lives than uninfected individuals.

The researchers collected stored blood samples from 102 men six months before they became infected with HIV and earlier, and from two to three years after they became infected. These samples were analyzed and compared with matched samples from 102 uninfected men of the same age collected during the same time period.

The biological age of the cells was assessed by four different epigenetic aging measures and when compared to the actual age of the person, it was found that the cells showed signs of significantly accelerated aging. Examination of telomere length revealed that the ends of DNA molecules were significantly shorter to the point that such cells could not continue to divide. In contrast, this accelerated aging was not seen in people who were not infected with HIV.

AIDS on ART is all you need? Study finds HIV may speed up body's aging process

This phenomenon did not occur in a single measurement, but was a generalization of multiple measurements, and was measured to shorten the life span of the corresponding patients in the sample by 1.9 to 4.8 years, depending on the degree of accelerated cellular aging.

Moreover, current treatment options, including ART, only prolong the life span of patients and improve their quality of life by reducing the amount of virus in their bodies, but do not cure the root cause of AIDS. This means that patients need to take medication for a long time, which not only faces a financial burden, but also the damage to organs. Therefore, prevention is always the first priority, and staying away from drugs and being clean is the only way to fight AIDS.

This article originated from the financial sector