Carotid artery atherosclerosis is associated with mortality in HIV-positive women and men

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Among people with HIV, there are few long-term studies of noninvasive ultrasound-based measurements of the carotid artery predicting major health events. We hypothesized that such measurements are associated with 10-year mortality in the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) and Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS), and that associations differ by HIV serostatus.


Nested cohort study.


Participants without coronary heart disease underwent B-mode carotid artery ultrasound, with measurement of common carotid artery intima–media thickness (IMT); carotid artery plaque (focal IMT > 1.5 mm) at six locations; and Young's modulus of elasticity, a measure of arterial stiffness. We examined all-cause mortality using Cox models, controlling for demographic, behavioral, cardiometabolic, and HIV-related factors.


Among 1722 women (median age 40 years, 90% nonwhite, 71% HIV-positive) and 1304 men (median age 50, 39% nonwhite, 62% HIV-positive), 11% died during follow-up. Mortality was higher among HIV-positive women [19.9 deaths/1000 person-years, 95% confidence interval (CI) 14.7–28.8] than HIV-positive men (15.1/1000, 95% CI 8.3–26.8). In adjusted analyses, plaque was associated with mortality (hazard ratio 1.44, 95% CI 1.10–1.88) regardless of HIV serostatus, and varied by sex (among women, hazard ratio 1.06, 95% CI 0.74–1.52; among men; hazard ratio 2.19, 95% CI 1.41–3.43). The association of plaque with mortality was more pronounced among HIV-negative (hazard ratio 3.87, 95% 1.95–7.66) than HIV-positive participants (hazard ratio 1.35, 95% CI 1.00–1.84). Arterial stiffness was also associated with mortality (hazard ratio 1.43 for highest versus lowest quartile, 95% CI 1.02–2.01). Greater common carotid artery-IMT was not associated with mortality.


Carotid artery plaque was predictive of mortality, with differences observed by sex and HIV serostatus.

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