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Kidney Damage Elevated in Patients with HIV and Diabetes

Findings from a recent study suggest that patients with both HIV and diabetes have higher rates of kidney damage. High viral load was also linked to kidney damage. The lead author of the study was Colleen Hadigan, MD, MPH, researcher at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in Bethesda, MD.


The kidney is a vital organ that performs many crucial functions as the body’s filtration system, removing waste products and toxic substances from the bloodstream, regulating the body’s water balance and maintaining proper pH (acidity/alkalinity) levels in fluids. Kidney damage can cause a buildup of wastes and toxins in the body. This can lead to chronic kidney disease and such complications as heart disease and nerve damage.


One indicator of kidney damage is albuminuria, increased levels of the protein albumin in patients’ urine. While it is normal to have some albumin in urine, a spike in concentrations can indicate that the protein is abnormally leaking through the kidney.


Hadigan and colleagues analyzed the rate of albuminuria in three groups: 73 HIV+ adults with type 2 diabetes, 82 HIV+ nondiabetics and 61 diabetic control subjects without HIV. Of the HIV+/diabetes group, 34% had albuminuria. In contrast, only 13% of the group with HIV+ only had albuminuria. 16% of the diabetes only group had albuminuria. Study authors also observed that kidney damage was more frequent in HIV-positive patients with higher viral loads. Other recent studies have shown that the use of antiviral and other drugs by HIV+ patients has been linked to higher risks for developing diabetes and kidney damage. 


“The important message from this study is to raise awareness about the high prevalence of albuminuria (a marker of kidney damage) among health care providers for individuals with HIV and diabetes,” said Hadigan.


The study, “Increased Prevalence of Albuminuria in HIV-Infected Adults with Diabetes,” was published online in the journal PLoS ONE.


Source:, September 27, 2011


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