(HealthDay News) – HIV-infected children treated with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) have better cardiac function than untreated children, according to a study published online April 22 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Steven E. Lipshultz, MD, from the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, and colleagues used linear regression models to compare echocardiographic measures for 325 perinatally HIV-infected children receiving HAART; 189 HIV-exposed but uninfected children; and 70 HIV-infected, mostly HAART-unexposed, children (historical pediatric controls).

The researchers found that the HIV-infected children receiving HAART had significantly lower viral loads, higher CD4 counts, and longer treatment durations compared with the historical controls. The z scores for left ventricle fractional shortening (a measure of cardiac function) were significantly lower for the historical controls compared with the other two groups. HIV-infected children with a lower nadir CD4 percentage and a higher current viral load had significantly worse cardiac function, according to the study.

“Long-term HAART appears to be cardioprotective for HIV-infected children and adolescents,” Lipshultz and colleagues conclude.

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