HIV speeds up bodys aging processes soon after infection, study shows: Changes at the DNA level can accelerate aging by nearly five years, research demonstrates

HIV has an “early and substantial” impact on aging in infected people, accelerating biological changes in the body associated with normal aging within just two to three years of infection, according to a study by UCLA researchers and colleagues.

The findings suggest that new HIV infection may rapidly cut nearly five years off an individual’s life span relative to an uninfected person.

“Our work demonstrates that even in the early months and years of living with HIV, the virus has already set into motion an accelerated aging process at the DNA level,” said lead author Elizabeth Crabb Breen, a professor emerita at UCLA’s Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology and of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “This emphasizes the critical importance of early HIV diagnosis and an awareness of aging-related problems, as well as the value of preventing HIV infection in the first place.”

The study is published today in the peer-reviewed journal iScience.

Previous research has suggested that HIV and antiretroviral therapies used to keep the infection under control are associated with an earlier onset of age-related conditions typically associated with aging, such as heart and kidney disease, frailty, and cognitive difficulties.

The research team analyzed stored blood samples from 102 men collected six months or less before they became infected with HIV and again two to three years after infection. They compared these with matching samples from 102 non-infected men of the same age taken over the same time period. The authors say this study is the first to match infected and non-infected people in this way. All the men were participants in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study, an ongoing nationwide study initiated in 1984.

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