Impact of Perceived Cardiovascular Risk on Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Behaviors in People With and Without HIV Infection

J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2020 Apr 15;83(5):513-521. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000002290.


Background: People living with HIV (PLHIV) are at elevated risk of developing atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD). PLHIV do not engage in recommended levels of ASCVD prevention behaviors, perhaps due to a reduced perception of risk for ASCVD. We examined how HIV status influences knowledge, beliefs, and perception of risk for ASCVD and ASCVD prevention behaviors.

Methods and results: We conducted a mixed-methods study of 191 PLHIV and demographically similar HIV-uninfected adults. Participants completed self-reported surveys on CVD risk perceptions, adherence to CVD medication (aspirin, antihypertensives, and lipid-lowering medication) and 3 dietary intake interviews. All wore an accelerometer to measure physical activity. A subset of PLHIV (n = 38) also completed qualitative focus groups to further examine the influence of HIV on knowledge, perception of risk for ASCVD, and behavior.

Participants: They were approximately 54 (±10) years, mostly men (n = 111; 58%), and African American (n = 151, 83%) with an average 10-year risk of an ASCVD event of 10.4 (±8.2)%. PLHIV were less likely to engage in physical activity (44% vs 65%, P < 0.05), and HIV status was associated with 43 fewer minutes of physical activity per week (P = 0.004). Adherence to ASCVD medications was better among PLHIV (P < 0.001). Diet composition was similar between groups (P > 0.05). HIV status did not influence ASCVD risk perceptions (P > 0.05) and modestly influenced physical activity and smoking.

Conclusions: Although perceptions of ASCVD risk modestly influence some behaviors, additional barriers and insufficient cues to action result in suboptimal physical activity, dietary intake, and smoking rates. However, PLHIV have high adherence to ASCVD medications, which can be harnessed to reduce their high burden of ASCVD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Atherosclerosis / prevention & control
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Cardiovascular System
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Racial Groups
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Report
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States