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Insulin resistance and HIV infection: a review


  • Disclosures
    The authors state that they have no interests which might be perceived as posing a conflict or bias.

Michael Aboud, Harrison Wing, 2nd Floor Lambeth Wing, St Thomas’ Hospital, Lambeth Palace Road, London SE1 7EH, UK
Tel.: 02071882607
Fax: 02071882646


Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has markedly improved the prognosis of people with HIV infection. However, there are long-term side effects associated with HAART. Alterations in metabolic parameters are common and include hyperlipidaemia and insulin resistance (IR), either in isolation or as part of the lipodystrophy and metabolic syndromes. Insulin resistance is common in HIV-infected people, particularly among those being treated with protease inhibitor therapy. The prevalence of hyperglycaemia and diabetes mellitus is significantly higher in people with HIV infection being treated with antiretrovirals (ARVs), as compared with the general population. Hyperglycaemia is an important risk factor for the development of secondary pathology, including cardiovascular disease. It is therefore important to consider the effects of IR in HIV-infected individuals, and take measures to prevent or manage it appropriately. There is limited evidence for the benefit of pharmacological interventions for IR alone although the metabolic changes and body shape changes of lipodystrophy might benefit from the combined use of metformin with exercise. At present, therefore, it is best to concentrate on preventative measures, including lifestyle modification, the careful selection of ARV drugs, and changing drug combinations where appropriate.