Getting to the heart of cardiovascular disease in HIV

Despite effective therapy that suppresses HIV replication and prevents AIDS, people living with HIV (PLWH) suffer an increased risk of a number of co-morbid conditions including heart disease, which is now one of the greatest causes of disease and death in PLWH on anti-HIV therapy.

PLWH have over twice the risk of developing cardiovascular disease as compared to the general population, but why this occurs is still unknown. A number of possible mechanisms have been proposed including: a) systemic inflammation and immune activation that persist despite effective anti-HIV therapy, b) increased platelet activation as a side effect of anti-HIV medications or c) altered function of cells which drive the early stages of cardiovascular disease (e.g. monocytes).

There is evidence that the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease in PLWH may differ subtly to the general population, which has implications for how to best predict, prevent and treat this disease in the HIV+ population.

We are collaborating with clinician-researchers located onsite at the Alfred Hospital to investigate a number of these critical questions including:

  • Can we identify biomarkers that predict a cardiovascular event in PLWH?
  • What is the best way to identify early cardiovascular disease in PLWH?
  • How effective are treatments used in the general population at preventing cardiovascular disease in PLWH?
  • Do co-infections with other pathogens in addition to HIV potentiate the development of cardiovascular disease?


2016 – 2019


  • A/Prof Anthony Jaworowski, RMIT University
  • Prof Jenny Hoy, Alfred Hospital
  • Dr Janine Trevillyan, Alfred Hospital



Contact Details

For any general enquiries relating to this project, please contact:

Doctor Anna Hearps

Deputy Program Director, Disease Elimination