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heart and blood vessels HIV in the bloodstream

Why is HIV-Related Heart, Lung, and Blood Research Important?

The NHLBI was swept up in the earliest research activities as the AIDS epidemic engulfed the globe. The impact of HIV threw into stark relief concerns about the safety of the blood supply and transformed transfusion medicine. The dramatic events of the past three decades have converted this acute, rapidly lethal illness into a chronic disease. Elucidating the biology of infection, understanding the nuances of the immune response, and developing effective therapies have dramatically changed the landscape.

Living for many decades with HIV is now the norm. The long-term consequences of infection, inflammation and chronic administration of antiretroviral therapy on the function of the heart, lung, blood, blood vessels, and bone marrow are becoming evident. As a result, a whole new set of questions arise: Are cardiovascular, pulmonary and hematologic disorders more common in persons living with HIV? Do they occur earlier? Do they manifest differently? How do these sets of exposures and processes interact with other risk factors for disease such as smoking, hypertension, and dyslipidemia?

The complex interactions between the blood, bone marrow, vasculature, and cardiovascular and pulmonary systems provide an opportunity for research to expand our understanding of the environmental and genetic factors determining health and disease. Such research also has the potential to clarify the impact of processes that underlie damage to multiple organs and enhance the care of persons with HIV and other chronic diseases. The NHLBI AIDS research program aims to prepare for the consequences of stunning successes in management of complex conditions and to bring multiple disciplines together to tackle emerging challenges.

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