Chronic viral infections, immune aging, and their impact on people living with HIV

Authors: Hélène Côté, Nancy Yi Yang, Anthony Hsieh, Zhuo Chen, Amber Campbell, Izabella Gadawska, Fatima Kakkar, Laura Sauve, Ari Bitnun, Jason Brophy, Melanie Murray, Neora Pick, Mel Krajden, CIHR Team on Cellular Aging and HIV Comorbidities in Women and Children (CARMA)

Title: Chronic and latent viral infections and leukocyte telomere length across the lifespan of female and male individuals living with or without HIV

Summary: A recent study by Hélène Côté, Melanie Murray and colleagues explores how long-term viral infections might speed up the aging of the immune system, especially in people living with HIV (PLWH). In this project, researchers examined various chronic viral infections and their impact on the length of leukocyte telomeres (LTL), a marker of biological aging. Participants were selected from the CARMA cohort study, covering a wide age range from infancy to over 60 years old, including both males and females, and both HIV-positive and HIV-negative individuals. The study tested for several common viruses and recorded self-reported infections. LTL was measured to understand its association with the number of infections and demographic factors. The study included HIV-positive and HIV-negative participants, aged between 0.7 and 76.1 years. Its results showed that being HIV-positive, older, and female were linked to having more chronic viral infections. Additionally, having more infections was related to shorter LTL, indicating faster biological aging. These findings indicate PLWH and females tend to have more persistent viral infections, which might contribute to faster immune system aging. The study raises important questions about the long-term health effects of these infections.

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