Study Shows HIV Impacts the Aging Process Significantly

Study Shows HIV Impacts the Aging Process Significantly

According to a brand new study by University of California researchers, published in iScience, HIV has a significant impact on people’s aging process!

The research discovered that this early impact takes hold during the first couple of years after infection with the virus.

The scientists claim that while on treatment, patients can lose up to 5 years of their total lifespan as a result of living with the illness.

It explains the reason why some patients with HIV have a higher risk of also being diagnosed with cancer, heart disease and other age related problems.

As part of the study, the researcher team looked at blood samples from over 100 men before infection and then once again a couple of years after being diagnosed.

They compared the results with blood samples from men not infected with the virus, over a similar period of time, looking at changes at the DNA level.

As you may be aware, human cells regenerate but over time they undergo degradation (methylation) which means they tend not to function as well in our later years, making us more prone to diseases.

With that being said, the people featured in the study showed “significant age acceleration” in these DNA regions.

According to a press release by Geffen School professor and senior author of the study, Beth Jamieson, the changes took place “just before infection and ending 2 to 3 years after, in the absence of active antiretroviral treatment. Similar age acceleration wasn’t seen in the non infected participants over the same time interval. Our access to rare, well characterized samples allowed us to design this study in a manner that leaves very little doubt about the role of HIV in eliciting biological signatures of early aging.”

She went on to state that “Our long term goal is to determine whether we can use any of these signatures in order to predict whether an individual is at increased risk for specific aging related disease outcomes, thus exposing new targets for intervention therapeutics.”

In other words, the biological age of those with HIV seemed to be older than their real age (1 to 3 years older), although treatment seems to partially reverse the aging impact of the virus.

The senior author also mentioned that this study is “another strong argument for the early detection of, and treatment for, HIV.”

Katherine Baldwin

Katherine is just getting her start as a journalist. She attended a technical school while still in high school where she learned a variety of skills, from photography to nutrition. Her enthusiasm for both natural and human sciences is real so she particularly enjoys covering topics on medicine and the environment.

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