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1.  Association of Age and Comorbidity with Physical Function in HIV-Infected and Uninfected Patients: Results from the Veterans Aging Cohort Study 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2011;25(1):13-20.
HIV clinical care now involves prevention and treatment of age-associated comorbidity. Although physical function is an established correlate to comorbidity in older adults without HIV infection, its role in aging of HIV-infected adults is not well understood. To investigate this question we conducted cross-sectional analyses including linear regression models of physical function in 3227 HIV-infected and 3240 uninfected patients enrolled 2002–2006 in the Veterans Aging Cohort Study-8-site (VACS-8). Baseline self-reported physical function correlated with the Short Form-12 physical subscale (ρ = 0.74, p < 0.001), and predicted survival. Across the age groups decline in physical function per year was greater in HIV-infected patients (βcoef −0.25, p < 0.001) compared to uninfected patients (βcoef −0.08, p = 0.03). This difference, although statistically significant (p < 0.01), was small. Function in the average 50-year old HIV-infected subject was equivalent to the average 51.5-year-old uninfected subject. History of cardiovascular disease was a significant predictor of poor function, but the effect was similar across groups. Chronic pulmonary disease had a differential effect on function by HIV status (Δβcoef −3.5, p = 0.03). A 50-year-old HIV-infected subject with chronic pulmonary disease had the equivalent level of function as a 68.1-year-old uninfected subject with chronic pulmonary disease. We conclude that age-associated comorbidity affects physical function in HIV-infected patients, and may modify the effect of aging. Longitudinal research with markers of disease severity is needed to investigate loss of physical function with aging, and to develop age-specific HIV care guidelines.
PMCID: PMC3030913  PMID: 21214375
2.  Prediction of Cardiorespiratory Fitness in Older Men Infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus: Clinical Factors and Value of the Six-Minute Walk Distance 
To investigate factors related to cardiorespiratory fitness in older human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients and to explore the utility of 6-minute walk distance (6-MWD) in measuring fitness.
Cross-sectional study in clinic-based cohort.
Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Baltimore, Maryland.
Forty-three HIV-infected men, median age 57 (range 50–82), without recent acquired immunodeficiency syndrome–related illness and receiving antiretroviral (ARV) therapy.
Peak oxygen utilization (VO2peak) according to treadmill graded exercise testing, 6-MWD, grip strength, quadriceps maximum voluntary isometric contraction, cross-sectional area, muscle quality, and muscle adiposity.
There was a moderate correlation between VO2peak (mean ± SD; 18.4 ± 5.6 mL/kg per minute) and 6-MWD (514 ± 91 m) (r = 0.60, P<.001). VO2peak was lower in subjects with hypertension (16%, P<.01) and moderate anemia (hemoglobin 10–13 gm/dL; 15%, P = .09) than in subjects without these conditions. CD4 cell count (median 356 cells/mL, range 20–1,401) and HIV-1 viral load (84% nondetectable) were not related to VO2peak. Among muscle parameters, only grip strength was an independent predictor of VO2peak. Estimation of VO2peak using linear regression, including age, 6-MWD, grip strength, and hypertension as independent variables, explained 61% of the variance in VO2peak.
Non-AIDS-related comorbidity predicts cardiorespiratory fitness in older HIV-infected men receiving ARV therapy. The 6-MWD is a valuable measure of fitness in this patient population, but a larger study with diverse subjects is needed.
PMCID: PMC3049945  PMID: 19793156
HIV; AIDS; cardiorespiratory fitness; physical function
3.  HIV Infection, Antiretroviral Therapy Initiation and Longitudinal Changes in Biomarkers of Organ Function§ 
Current HIV research  2014;12(1):50-59.
HIV is associated with end-organ diseases of aging via unclear mechanisms. Longitudinally assessing how HIV infection and ART initiation affect biomarkers of end organ function/disease could clarify these mechanisms. We investigated longitudinal changes in clinical biomarkers following 1) HIV infection and 2) ART initiation with evidence of viral suppression.
Cohort: Veterans Aging Cohort Study Virtual Cohort (VACS VC). VACS VC is a longitudinal cohort of HIV infected (HIV+) and race-ethnicity, sex, age, and clinical site-matched uninfected Veterans enrolled in the same calendar year. Inclusion criteria: a negative and successively positive (>six months) HIV antibody test. We used Wilcoxon signed-rank tests to analyze 1) the effect of HIV infection on lipids, renal, hepatic and hematologic/cardiovascular biomarkers and 2)whether ART initiation with HIV-1 RNA<500 cpm reverts any changes back to pre-HIV levels
422 Veterans had at least 1 biomarker measurement available prior to HIV infection and prior to ART initiation. 297 had at least 1 biomarker measurement available prior to HIV infection and after ART initiation with evidence of viral suppression. Mean age prior to HIV infection was 43 years. HIV infection was associated with reduction in total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, serum albumin, ALT, platelet count, hemoglobin and elevation of FIB-4 score and triglycerides. These changes occurred without significant changes in BMI. ART initiation (with HIV-1 RNA<500cpm) did not reverse alteration in triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, hemoglobin, or FIB-4 to pre-HIV infection levels.
HIV infection is associated with longitudinal changes in serum levels of several biomarkers of end-organ function/disease and mortality. Multiple biomarkers (triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, hemoglobin, and FIB-4) remain altered from levels prior to HIV infection levels even following inititiation of ART and evidence of viral suppression. These results give insights into underlying mechanisms of increased risk for aging-related chronic diseases in the context of HIV infection.
PMCID: PMC4495647  PMID: 25034208
Clinical biomarkers; chronic diseases of aging; HIV infection; lipids
4.  Prehypertension, Hypertension, and the Risk of Acute Myocardial Infarction in HIV-Infected and -Uninfected Veterans 
We found increased acute myocardial infarction risk among hypertensive and prehypertensive HIV-infected veterans compared to normotensive uninfected veterans, independent of confounding comorbidities.
Background. Compared to uninfected people, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–infected individuals may have an increased risk of acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Currently, HIV-infected people are treated to the same blood pressure (BP) goals (<140/90 or <130/80 mm Hg) as their uninfected counterparts. Whether HIV-infected people with elevated BP have excess AMI risk compared to uninfected people is not known. This study examines whether the association between elevated BP and AMI risk differs by HIV status.
Methods. The Veterans Aging Cohort Study Virtual Cohort (VACS VC) consists of HIV-infected and -uninfected veterans matched 1:2 on age, sex, race/ethnicity, and clinical site. For this analysis, we analyzed 81 026 people with available BP data from VACS VC, who were free of cardiovascular disease at baseline. BP was the average of the 3 routine outpatient clinical measurements performed closest to baseline (first clinical visit after April 2003). BP categories used in the analyses were based on criteria of the Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure. Analyses were performed using Cox proportional hazards regression.
Results. Over 5.9 years (median), 860 incident AMIs occurred. Low/high prehypertensive and untreated/treated hypertensive HIV-infected individuals had increased AMI risk compared to uninfected, untreated normotensive individuals (hazard ratio [HR], 1.60 [95% confidence interval {CI}, 1.07–2.39]; HR, 1.81 [95% CI, 1.22–2.68]; HR, 2.57 [95% CI, 1.76–3.76]; and HR, 2.76 [95% CI, 1.90–4.02], respectively).
Conclusions. HIV, prehypertensive BP, and hypertensive BP were associated with an increased risk of AMI in a cohort of HIV-infected and -uninfected veterans. Future studies should prospectively investigate whether HIV interacts with BP to further increase AMI risk.
PMCID: PMC3864500  PMID: 24065316
blood pressure; prehypertension; HIV; myocardial infarction
5.  Association of the Veterans Aging Cohort Study Index with Exercise Capacity in HIV-Infected Adults 
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses  2013;29(9):1218-1223.
Physical disability is a major priority in aging, affecting morbidity, mortality, and quality of life. Despite the large number of adults aging with HIV, our understanding of the physiologic and clinical risk factors for disability is limited. Our goal is to determine whether the Veterans Aging Cohort Study (VACS) Index, based on routine clinical blood tests, could serve as a point of care screening tool to identify HIV-infected adults at high risk for physical disability. HIV-infected adults enrolled in the VACS participated in a cross-sectional exercise study with established measures of strength and endurance. The VACS Index was calculated using recent clinical laboratory values and age; a higher score reflects greater mortality risk. Statistical analyses included correlation and linear regression models adjusted for muscle mass. Fifty-five HIV-infected adults, predominantly African-American men, were included with age mean±SD of 52±7 years. Median (IQR) CD4 cell count was 356 cells/mm3 (212–527). The VACS Index was inversely correlated with quadriceps strength (r=−0.45, p<0.01), grip strength (r=−0.28, p=0.04), and 6-min walk distance (r=−0.27, p=0.05). A 20-point increase in VACS Index score was associated with a 10% lower leg strength (p<0.01), which remained significant after adjustment for muscle cross-sectional area (p=0.02). The VACS Index explained 31% of the variance in specific leg strength. In this group of middle-aged adults with well-controlled HIV infection the VACS Index was significantly associated with upper and lower extremity strength. The VACS Index may be valuable for identification of patients at high risk for disability due to muscle weakness.
PMCID: PMC3749694  PMID: 23705911
6.  Directly Administered Antiretroviral Therapy for HIV-Infected Individuals in Opioid Treatment Programs: Results from a Randomized Clinical Trial 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68286.
Data regarding the efficacy of directly administered antiretroviral therapy (DAART) are mixed. Opioid treatment programs (OTPs) provide a convenient framework for DAART. In a randomized controlled trial, we compared DAART and self-administered therapy (SAT) among HIV-infected subjects attending five OTPs in Baltimore, MD.
HIV-infected individuals attending OTPs were eligible if they were not taking antiretroviral therapy (ART) or were virologically failing ART at last clinical assessment. In subjects assigned to DAART, we observed one ART dose per weekday at the OTP for up to 12 months. SAT subjects administered ART at home. The primary efficacy comparison was the between-arm difference in the average proportions with HIV RNA <50 copies/mL during the intervention phase (3-, 6-, and 12-month study visits), using a logistic regression model accounting for intra-person correlation due to repeated observations. Adherence was measured with electronic monitors in both arms.
We randomized 55 and 52 subjects from five Baltimore OTPs to DAART and SAT, respectively. The average proportions with HIV RNA <50 copies/mL during the intervention phase were 0.51 in DAART and 0.40 in SAT (difference 0.11, 95% CI: −0.020 to 0.24). There were no significant differences between arms in electronically-measured adherence, average CD4 cell increase from baseline, average change in log10 HIV RNA from baseline, opportunistic conditions, hospitalizations, mortality, or the development of new drug resistance mutations.
In this randomized trial, we found little evidence that DAART provided clinical benefits compared to SAT among HIV-infected subjects attending OTPs.
Trial Registration NCT00279110 NCT00279110?term = NCT00279110&rank = 1
PMCID: PMC3712961  PMID: 23874575
7.  HIV Status, Burden of Comorbid Disease, and Biomarkers of Inflammation, Altered Coagulation, and Monocyte Activation 
We investigated the association between human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and prevalence of elevated biomarkers of inflammation, altered coagulation, and monocyte activation in a cohort of HIV-infected and uninfected veterans who had a comparable burden of comorbid conditions.
Background. Biomarkers of inflammation, altered coagulation, and monocyte activation are associated with mortality and cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the general population and among human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–infected people. We compared biomarkers for inflammation, altered coagulation, and monocyte activation between HIV-infected and uninfected people in the Veterans Aging Cohort Study (VACS).
Methods. Biomarkers of inflammation (interleukin-6 [IL-6]), altered coagulation (d-dimer), and monocyte activation (soluble CD14 [sCD14]) were measured in blood samples from 1525 HIV-infected and 843 uninfected VACS participants. Logistic regression was used to determine the association between HIV infection and prevalence of elevated (>75th percentile) biomarkers, adjusting for confounding comorbidities.
Results. HIV-infected veterans had less prevalent CVD, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, hazardous drinking, and renal disease, but more dyslipidemia, hepatitis C, and current smoking than uninfected veterans. Compared to uninfected veterans, HIV-infected veterans with HIV-1 RNA ≥500 copies/mL or CD4 count <200 cells/µL had a significantly higher prevalence of elevated IL-6 (odds ratio [OR], 1.54; 95% confidence interval [CI],1.14–2.09; OR, 2.25; 95% CI, 1.60–3.16, respectively) and d-dimer (OR, 1.97; 95% CI, 1.44–2.71, OR, 1.68; 95% CI, 1.22–2.32, respectively) after adjusting for comorbidities. HIV-infected veterans with a CD4 cell count <200 cells/µL had significantly higher prevalence of elevated sCD14 compared to uninfected veterans (OR, 2.60; 95% CI, 1.64–4.14). These associations still persisted after restricting the analysis to veterans without known confounding comorbid conditions.
Conclusions. These data suggest that ongoing HIV replication and immune depletion significantly contribute to increased prevalence of elevated biomarkers of inflammation, altered coagulation, and monocyte activation. This contribution is independent of and in addition to the substantial contribution from comorbid conditions.
PMCID: PMC3493182  PMID: 22534147
8.  Risk of Heart Failure With Human Immunodeficiency Virus in the Absence of Prior Diagnosis of Coronary Heart Disease 
Archives of internal medicine  2011;171(8):737-743.
Whether human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is a risk factor for heart failure (HF) is not clear. The presence of coronary heart disease and alcohol consumption in this population may confound this association.
To determine whether HIV infection is a risk factor for incident HF, we conducted a population-based, retrospective cohort study of HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected veterans enrolled in the Veterans Aging Cohort Study Virtual Cohort (VACS-VC) and the 1999 Large Health Study of Veteran Enrollees (LHS) from January 1, 2000, to July 31, 2007.
There were 8486 participants (28.2% HIV-infected) enrolled in the VACS-VC who also participated in the 1999 LHS. During the median 7.3 years of follow-up, 286 incident HF events occurred. Age- and race/ethnicity–adjusted HF rates among HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected veterans were 7.12 (95% confidence interval [CI],6.90-7.34) and 4.82 (95% CI, 4.72-4.91) per 1000 person-years, respectively. Compared with HIV-uninfected veterans, those who were HIV infected had an increased risk ofHF (adjusted hazard ratio [HR], 1.81; 95% CI, 1.39-2.36). This association persisted among veterans who did not have a coronary heart disease event or a diagnosis related to alcohol abuse or dependence before the incident HF event (adjusted HR, 1.96; 95% CI, 1.29-2.98). Compared with HIV-uninfected veterans, those who were HIV infected with a baseline Human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) RNA level of 500 or more copies/mL had a higher risk of HF (adjusted HR, 2.28; 95% CI, 1.57-3.32), while those with baseline and a recent HIV-1 RNA level less than 500 copies/mL did not (adjusted HR, 1.10; 95% CI, 0.64-1.89; P< .001 for comparison between high and low HIV-1 RNA groups).
Our data suggest that HIV infection is a risk factor for HF. Ongoing viral replication is associated with a higher risk of developing HF.
PMCID: PMC3687533  PMID: 21518940
9.  HIV Infection and Risk for Incident Pulmonary Diseases in the Combination Antiretroviral Therapy Era 
Rationale: In aging HIV-infected populations comorbid diseases are important determinants of morbidity and mortality. Pulmonary diseases have not been systematically assessed in the combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) era.
Objectives: To determine the incidence of pulmonary diseases in HIV-infected persons compared with HIV-uninfected persons.
Methods: We analyzed data from the Veterans Aging Cohort Study Virtual Cohort, consisting of 33,420 HIV-infected veterans and 66,840 age, sex, race and ethnicity, and site-matched HIV-uninfected veterans. Using Poisson regression, incidence rates and adjusted incidence rate ratios were calculated to determine the association of HIV with pulmonary disease. The Virtual Cohort was merged with the 1999 Veterans Large Health Survey to adjust for self-reported smoking in a nested sample (14%).
Measurements and Main Results: Incident chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, pulmonary hypertension, and pulmonary fibrosis, as well as pulmonary infections, were significantly more likely among HIV-infected patients compared with uninfected patients in adjusted analyses, although rates of asthma did not differ by HIV status. Bacterial pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were the two most common incident pulmonary diseases, whereas opportunistic pneumonias were less common. Absolute rates of most pulmonary diseases increased with age, although the relative differences between those with and without HIV infection were greatest in younger persons. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma, as well as pulmonary infections, were less likely in those with lower HIV RNA levels and use of ART at baseline.
Conclusions: Pulmonary diseases among HIV-infected patients receiving care within the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System in the combination ART era reflect a substantial burden of non–AIDS-defining and chronic conditions, many of which are associated with aging.
PMCID: PMC3266024  PMID: 20851926
HIV; respiratory tract diseases; lung diseases, obstructive; pneumonia; pneumonia, bacterial
Muscle & nerve  2007;36(3):374-383.
Loss of muscle mass and limitations in activity have been reported in persons infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), even those who are otherwise asymptomatic. The extent to which factors other than muscle atrophy impair muscle performance has not been addressed in depth. The purpose of this study was to determine the extent of neuromuscular activation of the knee extensors and ankle dorsiflexors of 27 men infected with HIV receiving antiretroviral therapy and its relationship to muscle performance. The central activation ratio (CAR) was determined using superimposed electrical stimulation during maximum voluntary contractions. In addition to force and power measurements, muscle cross-sectional area and composition was evaluated using computed tomography. Aerobic capacity was determined from treadmill exercise testing. Eleven of the subjects had an impaired ability to activate the knee extensors (CAR = 0.72 ± 0.12) that was associated with weakness and decreased specific force. The reduced central activation was not associated with muscle area, body composition, aerobic capacity, CD4 count, or medication regimen. Those individuals with low central activation had higher HIV-1 viral loads and were more likely to have a history of AIDS-defining illness. These results suggest the possibility of a different mechanism contributing to muscle impairment in the current treatment era that is associated with impairment of central motor function rather than atrophy. Further investigation is warranted in a larger, more diverse population before more definitive claims are made.
PMCID: PMC3049953  PMID: 17554797
central activation; electrical stimulation; HIV infection; muscle cross-sectional area
12.  Study design and participant characteristics of a randomized controlled trial of directly administered antiretroviral therapy in opioid treatment programs 
HIV-infected drug users are at higher risk of non-adherence and poor treatment outcomes than HIV-infected non-drug users. Prior work from our group and others suggests that directly administered antiretroviral therapy (DAART) delivered in opioid treatment programs (OTPs) may increase rates of viral suppression.
We are conducting a randomized trial comparing DAART to self-administered therapy (SAT) in 5 OTPs in Baltimore, Maryland. Participants and investigators are aware of treatment assignments. The DAART intervention is 12 months. The primary outcome is HIV RNA < 50 copies/mL at 3, 6, and 12 months. To assess persistence of any study arm differences that emerge during the active intervention, we are conducting an 18-month visit (6 months after the intervention concludes). We are collecting electronic adherence data for 2 months in both study arms. Of 457 individuals screened, a total of 107 participants were enrolled, with 56 and 51 randomly assigned to DAART and SAT, respectively. Participants were predominantly African American, approximately half were women, and the median age was 47 years. Active use of cocaine and other drugs was common at baseline. HIV disease stage was advanced in most participants. The median CD4 count at enrollment was 207 cells/mm3, 66 (62%) had a history of an AIDS-defining opportunistic condition, and 21 (20%) were antiretroviral naïve.
This paper describes the rationale, methods, and baseline characteristics of subjects enrolled in a randomized clinical trial comparing DAART to SAT in opioid treatment programs.
Trial Registration NCT00279110
PMCID: PMC3047295  PMID: 21324133
13.  Erectile Dysfunction Drug Receipt, Risky Sexual Behavior and Sexually Transmitted Diseases in HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected Men 
Health care providers may be concerned that prescribing erectile dysfunction drugs (EDD) will contribute to risky sexual behavior.
To identify characteristics of men who received EDD prescriptions, determine whether EDD receipt is associated with risky sexual behavior and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and determine whether these relationships vary for certain sub-groups.
Cross-sectional study.
Two thousand seven hundred and eighty-seven sexually-active, HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected men recruited from eight Veterans Health Affairs outpatient clinics. Data were obtained from participant surveys, electronic medical records, and administrative pharmacy data.
EDD receipt was defined as two or more prescriptions for an EDD, risky sex as having unprotected sex with a partner of serodiscordant or unknown HIV status, and STDs, according to self-report.
Overall, 28% of men received EDD in the previous year. Eleven percent of men reported unprotected sex with a serodiscordant/unknown partner in the past year (HIV-infected 15%, HIV-uninfected 6%, P < 0.001). Compared to men who did not receive EDD, men who received EDD were equally likely to report risky sexual behavior (11% vs. 10%, p = 0.9) and STDs (7% vs 7%, p = 0.7). In multivariate analyses, EDD receipt was not significantly associated with risky sexual behavior or STDs in the entire sample or in subgroups of substance users or men who had sex with men.
EDD receipt was common but not associated with risky sexual behavior or STDs in this sample of HIV-infected and uninfected men. However, risky sexual behaviors persist in a minority of HIV-infected men, indicating ongoing need for prevention interventions.
PMCID: PMC2837496  PMID: 19921112
HIV infection; risky sexual behavior; STDs; men; phosphodiesterase inhibitors
14.  The Association Between the Receipt of Lipid Lowering Therapy and HIV Status Among Veterans Who Met NCEP/ATP III Criteria for the Receipt of Lipid Lowering Medication 
To examine the association between HIV infection status and the receipt of lipid lowering therapy based on National Cholesterol Education Program/Adult Treatment Panel (NCEP/ATP III) guidelines and to assess whether HIV viral load and hepatitis C (HCV) status alters that association.
A cross-sectional analysis of survey, laboratory, and pharmacy data from 1,577 male participants (59% HIV infected) of the Veterans Aging Cohort Five-Site Study, a prospective observational cohort of U.S. veterans with and without HIV infection.
Receipt of lipid lowering therapy obtained from the VA pharmacy benefits management system was the main outcome.
The prevalence of lipid lowering therapy among HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected veterans was 15.4% vs. 37.9%, respectively,  < 0.01. Among veterans who met NCEP/ATP III criteria for lipid lowering therapy, HIV-infected veterans had a significantly lower prevalence for the receipt of lipid lowering therapy (adjusted odds ratio (OR) = 0.43, 95% confidence interval (C.I.) 0.28–0.67) as compared with HIV-uninfected veterans. Among HIV-infected veterans, log HIV viral load (adjusted OR = 0.57, 95% CI, 0.41–0.81) and HIV-HCV co-infection (adjusted OR = 0.31, 95% CI = 0.13–0.75) were negatively associated with receipt of lipid lowering therapy. Exposure to HAART was not associated with receipt of lipid lowering therapy.
Among those who met NCEP/ATP III criteria for lipid lowering therapy, HIV-infected veterans, particularly those with high HIV viral loads and HCV co-infection, were significantly less likely to receive lipid lowering therapy. This may be a modifiable mediator of cardiovascular disease among HIV-infected individuals.
PMCID: PMC2642578  PMID: 19127386
HIV; cholesterol; hepatitis C; men; veterans; cardiovascular diseases

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