Because many HIV medications raise cholesterol levels, it is not uncommon for people living with HIV to be taking cholesterol lowering drugs. Results of a small study funded by the National Institutes of Health suggest that a class of these cholesterol lowering drugs, "statins" as they are referred to, may in fact benefit HIV positive people in a way other than just lowering their cholesterol levels. Dr. Brian Agan, director of HIV research with the Infectious Disease Clinical Research Program at the Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Md. reports that this study suggests that statin drugs may suppress the inflammatory process of HIV positive people. Chronic inflammation is common in people living with HIV and if left unchecked can be very detrimental to the health of the HIV positive person.
In this study, researchers recruited 24 people to randomly take high doses of the cholesterol lowering drug Lipitor (atorvastatin) or a placebo. While the Lipitor did not affect HIV levels it did appear to decrease inflammation in those people taking the drug. While the study is far from conclusive, the results are promising enough that researchers are looking at expanding investigations to encompass more patients for longer periods of time. It's known that the persistent inflammation associated with HIV can be very damaging. The suggestion that statins may be able to diminish that inflammation is definitely cause for further study.
More About Cholesterol and Triglycerides
- Understanding Cholesterol and Triglycerides
- More Information About Lipitor (atorvastatin)
- The Problem of Lipodystrophy
Dotinga, R.; "Statins Might Help HIV Patients, Study Suggests"; US News and World Report; 24 Feb 2011.