HIV-infected patients have a significantly higher risk of developing cardiovascular events during the progression of HIV disease. Atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, cerebrovascular injury, pulmonary hypertension and thrombosis are consistently described in both combined antiretroviral therapy (cART)-treated and naive HIV-positive patients as major clinical complications. Recent studies indicate that the pathogenesis of cardiovascular lesions in HIV-positive patients is related to direct and indirect effects of HIV infection on vessel structures, independently of traditional risk factors. HIV infection strongly interferes with the biology of several cellular targets such as macrophage and endothelial cells. Moreover, HIV induces a profound derangement of lipid metabolism and inflammatory cytokine networks that are directly involved in atherogenesis and progressive impairment of the cardiovascular system.In this review, we discuss these major HIV-related mechanisms able to promote atherosclerosis and cardiovascular diseases in HIV-positive patients.
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