NIH launches largest trial to date for HIV-related cardiovascular disease

The NIH has launched a randomized, multicenter, international study to see if statins can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease in HIV patients. As of now, no therapies have been found to lower cardiovascular risk in this patient population.

The REPRIEVE (Randomized Trial to Prevent Vascular Events in HIV) trial is the largest to date that is focused on HIV-related cardiovascular disease, according to the researchers. The NIH’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases are sponsoring the study.

Previous studies have found HIV patients are up to twice as likely to have cardiovascular disease even when controlling for elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, smoking and other risk factors.

The researchers suggested a few reasons for the increased risk, including that HIV causes inflammation and atherosclerosis. In addition, antiretroviral therapy is associated with higher cholesterol levels.

Approximately 100 sites in the U.S., Canada, Puerto Rico and Thailand are participating in the trial, which will enroll 6,500 HIV patients who are between 40 and 75 years of age. Patients will receive pitavastatin or placebo and will be followed for up to six years and assessed for heart attacks, strokes, heart disease and other major adverse cardiovascular events.

Researchers chose pitavastatin because the drug only has minimal interaction with HIV medications.