Increased Ocular Lens Density in HIV-Infected Individuals With Low Nadir CD4 Counts in South Africa: Evidence of Accelerated Aging

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HIV infection is thought to be associated with an increased risk of age-related morbidity and premature aging. Lens density increases with age and may function as a biomarker of aging. The relationship of lens density measurements with clinical and demographic characteristics in HIV-infected individuals in comparison with a matched population of HIV-seronegative individuals was investigated.


Case–control study of 490 adults aged greater than or equal to 30 years composed of 242 HIV-infected adults and 248 age- and sex-matched HIV-seronegative individuals. Lens density was assessed using lens densitometry (Pentacam) imaging. Measurements were divided into quartiles, and comparison of HIV status and HIV-related factors was assessed by multivariate and multinomial logistic regression.


The mean age was 41.2 years in HIV-infected adults and 42.3 years in HIV-seronegative individuals (P = 0.14). Of the HIV-infected adults, 88% were receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) (median duration, 58 months), and within this group, their median CD4 count was 468 cells per microliter and 84% had undetectable viral load. Although adjusted lens densities were similar by HIV serostatus, participants on ART and who had nadir CD4 counts less than 200 cells per microliter had a higher risk of high lens density compared with HIV-seronegative individuals (P trend = 0.04). Lens density was weakly associated with detectable HIV viremia despite ART, but not with current CD4 count.


HIV-infected individuals on ART with nadir CD4 counts <200 cells per microliter had increased risk of higher lens density. Lens density may represent a novel biomarker of aging, providing insight into accelerated aging trajectories in HIV infection.

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