Managing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in patients living with HIV

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is common among patients living with HIV and may lead to liver-related morbidity and mortality.

Recent findings

The prevalence of NAFLD among patients with HIV is increasingly well described due to new noninvasive techniques to quantify hepatic steatosis and fibrosis. Patients with HIV may be at increased risk of disease progression, though high-quality natural history studies are not available. The high rates of metabolic syndrome, dyslipidemia and insulin resistance may partially account for this excess risk, though the impact of HIV itself, antiretroviral medications and dysregulation of the gut–liver axis likely play important roles. Treatment of NAFLD in patients with HIV is poorly studied. Current recommendations include diet and lifestyle modifications, HIV viral suppression and limitation of hepatotoxic medications as possible. In addition, there are a large number of novel medications now in clinical trials designed to target the accumulation of hepatic fat, oxidative stress, inflammation and/or fibrosis, which will revolutionize this field.

Summary

Although additional work is needed to understand the natural history of NAFLD in patients with HIV and identify those at highest risk, novel treatment approaches are now being tested in this population. We may soon have effective treatments to combat this epidemic.

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