Objectives:  The aim of this was to compare the performance of the Framingham, Systematic Coronary Risk Evaluation (SCORE) and Prospective Cardiovascular Munster (PROCAM) scoring systems in the risk assessment of HIV-infected patients with no overt vascular disease.

Methods:  A cross-sectional study of 220 HIV-infected patients was conducted at the outpatient clinic of a referral and training centre in infectious and parasitic diseases in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. The Framingham, SCORE and PROCAM equations were calculated. Patients were classified as having low, moderate or high risk, which according to the Framingham and PROCAM equations corresponded to < 10%, 10–20% and > 20% respectively, and according to SCORE corresponded to < 3%, 3–4% and ≥5% respectively. Cohen’s kappa coefficient was used to assess agreement between the methods.

Results:  Of a total of 220 HIV-infected patients, 56 were antiretroviral (ARV)-naïve while 164 had already been treated with ARV. The prevalence of patients with a high 10-year cardiovascular risk was 3.7%, 2.5% and 1.9% according to the Framingham, PROCAM and SCORE equations respectively. The degree of agreement was moderate between the Framingham and PROCAM risk estimates (kappa = 0.433; p < 0.001), poor-to-fair between the Framingham and SCORE estimates (kappa = 0.220; p < 0.001) and moderate between the PROCAM and SCORE systems (kappa = 0.478; p < 0.001).

Conclusions:  There are differences in risk assessment and in the identification of high risk individuals between the three risk functions under evaluation and only a prospective study will be capable of assessing which offers the best current sensitivity, specificity and predictive values for the population under investigation.