Cardiovascular Disease Burden in Rural Africa: Does HIV and Antiretroviral Treatment Play a Role?: Baseline Analysis of the Ndlovu Cohort Study

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Background HIV is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) in high-income countries. Little is known about the CVD burden in sub-Saharan Africa, where 70% of the world's HIV-positive population lives. This study aims to provide insight into the burden of CVD risk in a rural setting in sub-Saharan Africa considering HIV infection and antiretroviral therapy (ART). Methods and Results A cross-sectional analysis was conducted of the baseline of the Ndlovu Cohort study including HIV-negative and HIV-positive participants in rural South Africa between 2014 and 2017. Information was collected on demographics, socioeconomic status, and CVD risk factors. Carotid intima-media thickness measurement was performed. The influence of HIV and ART on the burden of CVD was determined by comparing HIV-positive participants who were ART naive on first-line or second-line ART with HIV-negative participants. In total, 1927 participants were included, of whom 887 (46%) were HIV positive and 54% women. The median age was 38 years. Overall, 690 participants (79%) were on ART, with 613 (89%) on first-line and 77 (11%) on second-line therapy. Participants with HIV had lower values for most of the CVD risk factors but higher C-reactive protein levels than HIV-negative participants. ART-naive, HIV-positive participants had similar carotid intima-media thickness compared with HIV-negative participants but carotid intima-media thickness was increased for participants on ART aged 30 years and older compared with HIV-negative participants. Conclusions HIV-positive participants presented with a favorable CVD risk profile compared with HIV-negative participants. However, carotid intima-media thickness was increased in HIV-positive participants on ART, indicating a higher burden of subclinical CVD for the HIV-positive population.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere013466
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the American Heart Association
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 9 Apr 2020


  • cardiovascular disease
  • carotid intima‐media thickness
  • HIV
  • sub‐Saharan Africa


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