Although there are many studies on adverse health effects of substance use and HIV disease progression, similar studies about caffeine consumption are few. In this study, we investigated the effects of caffeine on immunological and virological markers of HIV disease progression. A convenience sample of 130 clinically stable people living with HIV/AIDS on antiretroviral therapy (65 consuming ≤250 mg/day and 65 consuming >250 mg/day of caffeine) were recruited from the Miami Adult Studies on HIV (MASH) cohort. This study included a baseline and 3-month follow-up visit. Demographics, body composition measures, substance use, Modified Caffeine Consumption Questionnaire (MCCQ), and CD4 count and HIV viral load were obtained for all participants. Multivariable linear regression and Linear Mixed Models (LMMs) were used to understand the effect of caffeine consumption on CD4 count and HIV viral load. The mean age of the cohort was 47.9 ± 6.4 years, 60.8% were men and 75.4% were African Americans. All participants were on ART during both the visits. Mean caffeine intake at baseline was 337.6 ± 305.0 mg/day and did not change significantly at the 3-month follow-up visit. Multivariable linear regressions after adjustment for covariates showed significant association between caffeine consumption and higher CD4 count (β = 1.532, p = 0.049) and lower HIV viral load (β = -1.067, p = 0.048). LMM after adjustment for covariates showed that the relationship between caffeine and CD4 count (β = 1.720, p = 0.042) and HIV viral load (β = -1.389, p = 0.033) continued over time in a dose-response manner. Higher caffeine consumption was associated with higher CD4 cell counts and lower HIV viral loads indicating beneficial effects on HIV disease progression. Further studies examining biochemical effects of caffeine on CD4 cell counts and viral replication need to be done in the future.
Keywords: HIV disease progression; HIV/AIDS; caffeine; immunological markers; virological markers.