The effect of perinatal HIV and antiretroviral therapy on vascular structure and function in young people: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Atherosclerosis. 2022 Jul;352:53-61. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2022.05.013. Epub 2022 May 26.


Background and aims: Perinatal HIV infection (PHIV) and prolonged use of antiretroviral therapy (ART) may increase the likelihood of developing subclinical vascular dysfunction at an early age. We conducted a systematic review to assess the effect of PHIV and ART on intima-media thickness (IMT), arterial stiffness and endothelial function in individuals aged 6-25 years.

Methods: Medline, Embase and Web of Science were searched, and studies screened by two independent reviewers. We performed a meta-analysis on selected studies reporting on IMT.

Results: A total of 680 studies were retrieved from the databases, with 21 studies deemed eligible for qualitative analysis. There were few studies assessing IMT, arterial stiffness and endothelial function. More than half of the studies found either increased IMT, stiffer arteries or impaired endothelial function in PHIV compared to uninfected controls. A minority of the studies reported that the two groups had similar vascular parameters, a conflicting finding. There was a lack of standardisation for IMT assessment and reporting in numerous studies. In a meta-analysis of seven studies with matching methodologies, IMT was higher in PHIV compared to uninfected controls, (mean difference, 0.05 (0.01-0.09; p = 0.01) but heterogeneity between the studies was substantial (I2, 96.7%; p < 0.001).

Conclusions: PHIV may affect vascular structure and function. Existing studies are generally small, often contradictory, and predominantly cross-sectional in design. Further studies are required to understand vascular health in PHIV to identify cardiovascular disease risk and improve interventional strategies aimed at prevention and treatment of early vascular changes in this population.

Keywords: ART; Perinatal HIV; Vascular dysfunction; Young people.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Carotid Intima-Media Thickness
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • HIV Infections* / complications
  • HIV Infections* / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Vascular Stiffness*