HIV-related pulmonary arterial hypertension: clinical presentation and management

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Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a progressive albeit rare long-term complication of HIV infection, which has gained importance following the improved survival of HIV-infected patients with the use of HAART. The clinical and pathological findings in PAH associated with HIV infection (HIV–PAH) share many features with the idiopathic form of the disease. HIV–PAH is associated with a particularly poor prognosis and decreased survival compared with HIV-infected patients without this complication, and patients with HIV–PAH tend to die from the effects of PAH rather than as a result of their HIV infection. Prompt diagnosis and effective treatment of PAH in HIV-infected patients is therefore essential. There are currently only limited data regarding the efficacy of PAH therapies in HIV–PAH. Treatment with epoprostenol has been reported to provide benefit in some cases, but is associated with a range of problems linked to the need for continuous intravenous infusion. The dual endothelin receptor antagonist bosentan has proved to be effective in HIV–PAH without affecting the control of HIV infection, and has the benefit of oral administration. Other PAH therapies including prostacyclin analogs, phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors and selective endothelin receptor antagonists have yet to be trialed in this setting. Taking into account currently available data and clinical experience, a treatment algorithm for HIV–PAH based on that defined in treatment guidelines for other forms of PAH is suggested.

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