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Baystate Participating in International Study on Heart Disease and HIV

October 28, 2015

Baystate researchers are participating in an international clinical trial testing whether statins can reduce the risk of heart disease in people with HIV infection.

Baystate is the only site in the area to offer the REPRIEVE (Randomized Trial to Prevent Vascular Events in HIV) trial, the next closest sites are in Boston, New York City or New Haven.

The Springfield area has one of the highest rates of HIV infection per capita in the state, with approximately 1,900 people living with HIV, according to Dr. Daniel Skiest, Chief of Infectious Diseases and the principal investigator for the study at the Baystate site.

HIV a Risk Factor for Developing Heart Disease

HIV infection may double the risk of developing cardiovascular disease. And, people with HIV are living longer, which puts them at risk for diseases associated with aging, including heart disease and stroke.

"The increased risk is probably due to two factors," states Skiest. "The first is a higher rate of smoking in the HIV+ population. Second, even after controlling for the smoking rate, there is evidence that increased inflammation due to HIV infection accelerates the process of atherosclerosis (plaque buildup in the arteries) which leads to cardiovascular disease."

Can Statins Prevent Heart Disease in People With HIV?

Since statins may inhibit inflammation and reduce plaque in the arteries, researchers hypothesize that statins should improve cardiovascular outcomes in patients with HIV.

"While statins are used in many patients in the general population who already have heart disease or high lipid levels, the REPRIEVE study is looking at the role of statins in preventing heart disease in the HIV infected population."

Researchers will follow 6,500 people with HIV infection for 6 years. Half of the study participants will receive a statin (Pitavastatin) therapy and half will receive a placebo. This is a randomized, double blinded , placebo, controlled study so neither patients nor researchers will know which they are on.

The study will assess participants for major cardiovascular events, and will evaluate the safety of statin therapy.

REPRIEVE is supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, in collaboration with the AIDS Clinical Trials Group.

> For information about volunteering for this trial at Baystate, visit the REPRIEVE clinical trial webpage.

> More about heart and vascular care at Baystate Health