BMC infectious diseases 2017 01 0717(1) 41 doi 10.1186/s12879-016-2158-y
There is growing evidence of an interaction between HIV-infection, anti-retroviral therapy (ART) and cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Epidemiological studies in Europe and North America have been observing a shift towards an increased incidence of coronary heart disease and acute myocardial infarctions in HIV-infected populations compared to the general population even after adjusting for traditional cardiovascular risk factors. Despite South Africa (and sub-Saharan Africa, SSA) being regarded as the epicentre of the global HIV epidemic, very little is known about the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors and precursors of vascular disease in HIV-infected populations in this region. The knowledge gap is further widened by the paucity of data from prospective studies. We present the rationale, objectives and key methodological features of the EndoAfrica study, which aims to determine whether HIV-infection and ART are associated with altered cardiovascular risk and changes in vascular endothelial structure and function in adults living in the Western Cape Province of South Africa.
In this longitudinal study, comprehensive cardiovascular assessments of HIV-negative and HIV-positive (with and without ART) study participants are performed by clinical and biochemical screening for traditional cardiovascular risk factors and biomarkers of CVD. Vascular and endothelial function is determined by brachial artery flow-mediated dilatation (FMD), carotid-intima-thickness (IMT) measurements and quantitative retinal blood vessel analyses, complemented by vascular endothelial biomarker assays. Finally, we aim to statistically determine whether HIV-infection and/or ART are associated with increased cardiovascular risk and vascular endothelial dysfunction, and determine whether there is progression/regression in these endpoints 18 months after the baseline assessments.
The EndoAfrica study provides a unique opportunity to recruit a cohort of HIV-infected patients and HIV-negative controls who will be comprehensively and longitudinally assessed for cardiovascular risk and disease profile with vascular endothelial function as a potentially important intermediate cardiovascular phenotype. To our knowledge, it is the first time that such a systematic study has been established in the context of SSA and South Africa.