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Address HIV-Associated Comorbidities, Coinfections, & Complications

HIV causes many health issues that are not improved by combination antiretroviral therapy (ART). HIV treatment also may lead to harmful side effects, interactions with other medications, HIV drug resistance, and other complications. One of NIH’s overarching research priorities is to improve the health outcomes of people with HIV by addressing these co-occurring conditions—or comorbidities—along with the other infections and complications faced by people with HIV across the lifespan.

This priority has become more urgent as the population of people with HIV is growing older and facing health issues related to aging. In 2016, 45 percent of people with HIV were 50 years of age or older. Of these, 6 percent were older than 60 years of age1. Chronic HIV infection, long-term ART use, and aging all can cause complications in people with HIV. Research is needed to better understand the relationships among aging, HIV infection, treatment, and related comorbidities.

Conducting research to improve the health outcomes of people with HIV

OAR supports basic, translational, and clinical research across the NIH to increase understanding of HIV-related comorbidities, coinfections, and complications. For example, the NIH is studying how immune dysfunction and inflammation in people with HIV may increase the risk for heart disease, early aging, cancer, and neurological or neurocognitive disorders. These interactions also may lead to an increased chance of early death.

The NIH also studies the relationships between HIV, HIV treatment, and other infections. Some infections are more common in people with HIV than in the general population, including tuberculosis (TB), hepatitis B and C, human papillomavirus (HPV), and other sexually transmitted infections. HIV treatment may affect these conditions. For example, research has found that TB interacts with HIV and complicates the treatment outcomes for both diseases.

The NIH is also supporting research such as HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders; psychological distress of HIV infection and AIDS; and psychological, social and health issues related to aging with HIV.

Research in these areas will help the NIH understand the causes, frequency, and clinical outcomes of HIV-related conditions.

Translating research into new diagnostic tools and medications

Partnerships across academia, industry, and other research organizations help OAR conduct clinical trials of new diagnostic tools and medications. These trials can improve health outcomes by helping to identify, prevent, and treat HIV-associated conditions experienced by people with HIV. This research also may help diagnose and treat other health concerns among people who are not infected with HIV.

1 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “HIV Among People Aged 50 and Over.” Accessed May 15, 2018.

This page last reviewed on September 8, 2022