Background:Combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) has allowed for viral load (VL) suppression and increased life expectancy for persons with HIV (PWH). Altered brain integrity, measured by neuropsychological (NP) performance and neuroimaging, is still prevalent among virally suppressed PWH. Age-related conditions such as cardiovascular disease may also affect brain integrity. This study investigated the effects of cardiovascular risk, VL, and HIV serostatus on cerebral blood flow (CBF), brain volumetrics, and cognitive function in PWH and persons without HIV (PWoH).Methods:Ten-year cardiovascular risk, using the Framingham Heart Study criteria, was calculated in PWH (n = 164) on cART with undetectable (≤20 copies/mL; n = 134) or detectable (>20 copies/mL; n = 30) VL and PWoH (n = 66). The effects of cardiovascular risk on brain integrity (CBF, volume, and cognition) were compared for PWH (undetectable and detectable VL) and PWoH.Results:PWH had smaller brain volumes and worse NP scores than PWoH. PWH with detectable and undetectable VL had similar brain integrity measures. Higher cardiovascular risk was associated with smaller volumes and lower CBF in multiple brain regions for PWH and PWoH. Significant interactions between HIV serostatus and cardiovascular risk on brain volumes were observed in frontal, orbitofrontal, and motor regions. Cardiovascular risk was not associated with cognition for PWH or PWoH.Conclusions:Neuroimaging, but not cognitive measures, was associated with elevated cardiovascular risk. HIV serostatus was associated with diminished brain volumes and worse cognition while CBF remained unchanged, reflecting potential protective effects of cART. Neuroimaging measures of structure (volume) and function (CBF) may identify contributions of comorbidities, but future longitudinal studies are needed.
- cerebral blood flow
- viral load