HIV and risk of cardiovascular disease in sub-Saharan Africa: Rationale and design of the Ndlovu Cohort Study

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Abstract

Background

The largest proportion of people living with HIV resides in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Evidence from developed countries suggests that HIV infection increases the relative risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) by up to 50%. Differences in lifestyle, gender distribution, routes of HIV transmission and HIV subtype preclude generalisation of data from Western countries to the SSA situation. The Ndlovu Cohort Study aims to provide insight into the burden of cardiovascular risk factors and disease, the mechanisms driving CVD risk and the contribution of HIV infection and its treatment to the development of CVD in a rural area of SSA.

Design

The Ndlovu Cohort Study is a prospective study in the Moutse area, Limpopo Province, South Africa.

Methods

A total of 1000 HIV-positive and 1000 HIV-negative participants aged 18 years and older with a male to female ratio of 1:1 will be recruited. Measurements of CVD risk factors and HIV-related characteristics will be performed at baseline, and participants will be followed-up over time at 6–month intervals. The burden of CVD will be assessed with repeated carotid intima–media thickness and pulse wave velocity measurements, as well as by recording clinical cardiovascular events that occur during the follow-up period.

Conclusion

This project will contribute to the understanding of the epidemiology and pathogenesis of CVD in the context of HIV infection in a rural area of SSA. The ultimate goal is to improve cardiovascular risk prediction and to indicate preventive approaches in the HIV-infected population and, potentially, for non-infected high-risk populations in a low-resource setting.

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