HIV is endemic in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Over 22.5 million people are living with HIV in the region, with 1.8 million new infections occurring in 2010. With the growing availability of antiretroviral therapy (ART), HIV is increasingly becoming a chronic disease, with infected individuals now living for several decades while on treatment. In parallel, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are rapidly becoming a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in SSA, forming a dual burden of disease with the already high rates of infection in the region. There has been some speculation concerning possible associations between chronic infections and NCDs, which could have wide ranging implications for SSA populations bearing a high burden of both disease types. However, the true magnitude of these associations, and possible correlations with other factors such as treatment regimens or traditional confounders, has not been clearly defined. Furthermore, these potential associations, if any, have not been reliably clarified in a large-scale African population to date.
In this context, our group has been instrumental in developing several population-based cohorts across SSA, as well as conducting a series of systematic reviews using observational and trial based data from the region. Data from these studies will be used to help further elucidate possible associations between NCD risk factors and chronic infection in SSA. Our current work examines HIV and ART as possible risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases through a combination of systematic review and participant data analysis from large-scale cohorts across the region.