Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is very prevalent in Brazil. HIV therapy has been recently associated with coronary heart disease (CHD). Dyslipidemia is a major risk factor for CHD that is frequently described in HIV positive patients, but very few studies have been conducted in Brazilian patients evaluating their lipid profiles.
In the present work, we evaluated the frequency and severity of dyslipidemia in 257 Brazilian HIV positive patients. Two hundred and thirty-eight (93%) were submitted to antiretroviral therapy (224 treated with protease inhibitors plus nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, 14 treated only with the latter, 12 naive and 7 had no records of treatment).
The average time on drug treatment with antiretroviral therapy was 20 months. None of the patients was under lipid lowering drugs. Cholesterol, triglyceride, phospholipid and free fatty acids were determined by enzymatic colorimetric methods. Lipoprotein profile was estimated by the Friedewald formula and Fredrickson's phenotyping was obtained by serum electrophoresis on agarose. Apolipoprotein B and AI and lipoprotein "a" were measured by nephelometry.
The Fredrickson phenotypes were: type IIb (51%), IV (41%), IIa (7%). In addition one patient was type III and another type V. Thirty-three percent of all HIV+ patients presented serum cholesterol levels ≥ 200 mg/dL, 61% LDL-cholesterol ≥ 100 mg/dL, 65% HDL-cholesterol below 40 mg/dL, 46% triglycerides ≥ 150 mg/dL and 10% have all these parameters above the limits. Eighty-six percent of patients had cholesterol/HDL-cholesterol ratio ≥ 3.5, 22% increased lipoprotein "a", 79% increased free fatty acids and 9% increased phospholipids. The treatment with protease inhibitors plus nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors increased the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in these patients when compared with naïve patients. The HDL-cholesterol (p = 0.01) and apolipoprotein A1 (p = 0.02) levels were inversely correlated with the time of protease inhibitor therapy while total cholesterol levels had a trend to correlate with antiretroviral therapy (p = 0.09).
The highly varied and prevalent types of dyslipidemia found in Brazilian HIV positive patients on antiretroviral therapies indicate the urgent need for their early diagnosis, the identification of the risk factors for CHD and, when needed, the prompt intervention on their lifestyle and/or with drug treatment.