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Although HIV is associated with increased atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, it is unknown whether guidelines can identify HIV-infected adults who may benefit from statins. We compared the 2013 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association and 2004 Adult Treatment Panel III recommendations in HIV-infected adults and evaluated associations with carotid artery intima-media thickness and plaque.Carotid artery intima-media thickness was measured at baseline and 3 years later in 352 HIV-infected adults without clinical atherosclerotic CVD and not on statins. Plaque was defined as IMT >1.5 mm in any segment. At baseline, the median age was 43 (interquartile range, 39–49), 85% were men, 74% were on antiretroviral medication, and 50% had plaque. The American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association guidelines were more likely to recommend statins compared with the Adult Treatment Panel III guidelines, both overall (26% versus 14%; P<0.001), in those with plaque (32% versus 17%; P=0.0002), and in those without plaque (16% versus 7%; P=0.025). In multivariable analysis, older age, higher low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, pack per year of smoking, and history of opportunistic infection were associated with baseline plaque. Baseline IMT (hazard ratio, 1.18 per 10% increment; 95% confidence interval, 1.05–1.33; P=0.005) and plaque (hazard ratio, 2.06; 95% confidence interval, 1.02–4.08; P=0.037) were each associated with all-cause mortality, independent of traditional CVD risk factors.Although the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association guidelines recommended statins to a greater number of HIV-infected adults compared with the Adult Treatment Panel III guidelines, both failed to recommend therapy in the majority of HIV-affected adults with carotid plaque. Baseline carotid atherosclerosis but not atherosclerotic CVD risk scores was an independent predictor of mortality. HIV-specific guidelines that include detection of subclinical atherosclerosis may help to identify HIV-infected adults who are at increased atherosclerotic CVD risk and may be considered for statins.