The study looked at 82,459 US veterans, the vast majority of them men. It was published in Archives of Internal Medicine, a publication of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
It said that in three age groups, the average incidence of heart attack was consistently and significantly higher for people who are HIV-positive, compared to uninfected veterans.
After adjusting for illness, smoking, alcohol consumption and risk factors such as high blood pressure and cholesterol, the HIV-positive subjects in the study had a 50 percent higher risk of heart attack than uninfected people.
The research was led by Matthew Freiberg of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
Several studies have shown that chronic activation of the immune system because of HIV infection prior to antiretroviral therapy seems to cause inflammation that apparently speeds up the aging process and leaves a person more vulnerable to illnesses associated with growing older.
A study published in July by the JAMA showed that people who are HIV-positive have twice the risk of heart attack or stroke compared to uninfected people. The authors of that study linked this increased risk to inflammation of the arteries.