Improvements in HIV treatment and care mean that the outlook for most people with HIV in the UK is now excellent. However, there is accumulating evidence that HIV may be associated with an acceleration in the ageing process. Increased rates of many of the diseases of ageing have been seen in people living with HIV. The prevalence of cataracts – cloudiness in the lens of the eye – increases with age. It is therefore possible that people with HIV may be vulnerable to cataract formation at an earlier age than would be otherwise expected. Researchers designed a study comparing lens density – an accurate marker of cataract formation – involving 242 people living with HIV and 248 age-matched controls recruited in Cape Town, South Africa. They found no association between current CD4 cell count and lens density. However, they found HIV-infected individuals on ART with low nadir CD4 counts (the lowest CD4 count ever seen) seemed to have an increased risk of higher lens density compared to HIV-negative individuals.

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