A new study discusses a little discussed expected side-effect of anti-retroviral treatment in Africa.
HIV-positive Rwandese patients on a World Health Organization (WHO)-recommended antiretroviral therapy regimens had a high prevalence of body fat redistribution (lipodystrophy), according to a report published in the December 1st edition of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes.
According to the study, HIV-positive patients with lipodystrophy had increased waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) and elevated cholesterol and glucose levels which put them at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes, respectively.
International and national efforts are underway to increase universal antiretroviral access to millions of HIV-positive patients across sub-Saharan Africa. While anti-HIV treatment has undoubtedly decreased HIV-related morbidity and deaths, it is associated with lipodystrophy.
Lipodystrophy exerts a profound socio-psychological impact on the patient and the community. The disfiguration results in not only stigmatisation and marginalisation of patients but also reduced adherence to antiretroviral treatment. The latter is a risk factor for drug resistance.