Latin Americans on HIV Meds at Higher Risk for Weight Gain

A study released by The Lancet conducted with Micheal Horberg, an infectious disease physician and HIV director with the Mid-Atlantic Permanente Research Institute, determined that Latinx people with HIV seeking antiretroviral therapy (ART) are more susceptible to weight gain or obesity.

The research compiled data from Brazil, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, Haiti and the United States between the years 2000 to 2018. The research assessed the weight and body mass index (BMI) of Latinos (Latin American males) receiving ART.

Of the 59,207 people represented in the study, 9 percent were Latinos from Latin America, 9 percent were Latinos in the United States, 14 percent were Haitian, and 68 percent were non-Latino in the US

The most substantial weight gain and BMI differences occurred in Latinos in Latin America, including Brazil, Honduras, Mexico, and Peru. Latinos in Latin America had lower BMI’s after three years of no ART compared to non-Latinx people in the US

The authors from the research attribute this weight loss to Cachexia, an illness acquired once HIV goes untreated and symptoms of the disease worsen. Dr. Horberg concluded, “People with HIV who live in disadvantaged locations have less access to healthy food options and places to exercise and are more exposed to violence and chronic stress, thereby increasing their risk of becoming obese and developing obesity-related conditions.”

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