Volume 12 - Number 1

January - March 2010

Epidemiology, Assessment, and Management of Excess Abdominal Fat in Persons with HIV Infection

Graeme Moyle, Michel Moutschen, Esteban Martínez, Pere Domingo, Giovanni Guaraldi, François Raffi, Georg Behrens and Peter Reiss   |Full Article in PDF|

Chelsea and Westminster Hospital. London, UK


Metabolic and morphologic abnormalities in persons with HIV remain common contributors to stigma and morbidity. Increased abdominal circumference and visceral adiposity were first recognized in the late 1990s, soon after the advent of effective combination antiretroviral therapy. Visceral adiposity is commonly associated with metabolic abnormalities including low HDL-cholesterol, raised triglycerides, insulin resistance, and hypertension, a constellation of risk factors for cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus known as “the metabolic syndrome”. Medline and conference abstracts were searched to identify clinical research on factors associated with visceral adiposity and randomized studies of management approaches. Data were critically reviewed by physicians familiar with the field. A range of host and lifestyle factors as well as antiretroviral drug choice were associated with increased visceral adiposity. Management approaches included treatment switching and metformin, both of which have shown benefit for insulin-resistant individuals with isolated fat accumulation. Testosterone supplements may also have benefits in a subset of individuals. Supra-physiological doses of recombinant human growth hormone and the growth hormone releasing hormone analog tesamorelin both significantly and selectively reduce visceral fat over 12-24 weeks; however, the benefits are only maintained if dosing is continued. In summary, the prevention and management of visceral adiposity remains a substantial challenge in clinical practice.

Key Words:

Visceral adiposity. Lipodystrophy. HIV. Metabolic syndrome. Metformin. Tesamorelin.

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