The website aidsmap.com has featured a piece on Vitamin D deficiency among people with HIV in its top stories from this year’s annual Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI, San Francisco, Feb. 2010), one of the main yearly meetings for scientific research on HIV/AIDS. Here’s an excerpt from the report, authored by Derek Thaczuk and published 2/19/2010:
Vitamin D deficiency extremely common among HIV-positive patients in diverse regions
New analyses have found widespread vitamin D insufficiency among American, Italian and Swiss cohorts of HIV-positive patients. [Note: also reported at CROI was a study looking at health outcomes in Tanzanian women with low vitamin D levels.] These data were presented in a poster session and related discussion at the 17th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI).
Vitamin D deficiency was consistently less frequent in Caucasians than in other races. Otherwise, the studies were not entirely consistent as to other risk factors, such as duration or type of antiretroviral treatment.
At the CROI discussion session on Wednesday, moderator Peter Reiss from the University of Amsterdam began by noting that vitamin D deficiency can result in bone density loss, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and insulin resistance, kidney disease, and other metabolic conditions commonly seen in patients with HIV.
These studies add to a growing body of evidence that insufficient or deficient vitamin D levels are extremely prevalent among persons with HIV. While prevalence figures (and the cutoff values used to define them) vary, these studies reported insufficiency rates of 54% to 72%; figures which are generally consistent with other reports. Studies in women linked vitamin D deficiency with risk of bacterial vaginosis, thrush, and other health problems.
The single factor invariably associated with insufficiency or deficiency was non-Caucasian race. Otherwise, reported risk factors were not entirely consistent, although several studies identified NNRTI and/or efavirenz use.
Investigators agreed that vitamin D deficiency is prevalent among HIV-positive individuals, has harmful effects on health, and is easily addressable through supplementation. Remaining research questions include the link between deficiency and clinical health outcomes, the impact of supplementation, the best doses for supplementation, and closer comparisons of deficiency rates in people with HIV and in the general population, where deficiency is also common.
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