Obesity can increase risk among people with HIV, according to a new study.
The study has shown that antiretroviral therapy may not be as effective on obese HIV patients as it is with people of normal weight.
Researchers from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, who conducted the study, insisted that the immune systems among obese people with HIV do not respond as well as it does among normal weight people with HIV.
Nancy Crum-Cianflone, MD, who presented the study at the annual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, said: "Obese patients were found to regain fewer CD4-positive T cells after they start therapy than do people with normal weight," said Dr. Crum-Cianflone.
"These findings don't align with some of the earlier studies done prior to the advent of modern highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), when patients who were obese did better than those of normal or below-normal weight."
Data collected by the USU's Infectious Disease Clinical Research Program (IDCRP) from participants in the U.S. Military Natural History Study, was assessed as part of the study.
The data had details of 1,119 people, including documented dates of HIV seroconversion between 1986 and 2008.
Captain (Dr.) Greg Martin, director of the IDCRP said: "The irony is that in the past we have been concerned that patients with HIV infection were losing too much weight.
"Yet this research is showing that there needs to be more of a focus on maintaining a balanced weight without going to the other extreme."
Earlier studies had hinted that when HAART was unavailable, patients who were obese lost CD4 cells more slowly than people who had normal or below-normal weight.
Crum-Cianflone mentioned that the introduction of HAART has resulted in immune system recovery, which is measured by an increase in the number of CD4 cells.
She concluded that the study also "suggests that low CD4 counts may be another adverse consequence of obesity."