HIV and inflammation: mechanisms and consequences

Curr HIV/AIDS Rep. 2012 Jun;9(2):139-47. doi: 10.1007/s11904-012-0118-8.


Persistent immune activation and inflammation despite sustained antiretroviral therapy (ART)-mediated viral suppression has emerged as a major challenge of the modern HIV treatment era. While immune activation, inflammatory, and coagulation markers typically decline during suppressive ART, they remain abnormally elevated in many HIV-infected individuals and predict subsequent mortality and non-AIDS morbidities including cardiovascular disease. The goal of this review is to summarize the current state of our knowledge regarding the underlying causes of persistent immune activation during ART-mediated viral suppression as well as the link between persistent immune activation and morbidity and mortality in this setting. Several recent studies have linked surrogate markers of this persistent inflammatory state to clinical outcomes, validating persistent immune activation as a viable therapeutic target. Other recent studies have helped clarify the roles of persistent HIV expression and/or replication, microbial translocation, and co-infections in driving this persistent inflammatory state, identifying targets for novel interventions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bacterial Translocation / immunology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Coinfection / immunology
  • Coinfection / virology
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • HIV Infections / mortality
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Inflammation / mortality
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Neoplasms / etiology


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents