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Arteries may be vulnerable to HIV attack

Until the mid-1990s, with the advent of the antiviral drugs known as protease inhibitors, investigators paid relatively little attention to the long-term effects of an HIV infection. After all, most people harboring the virus died of AIDS within a few years after diagnosis.

Now that HIV-infected people are living longer, however, their medical histories hint that they face an increased risk of coronary-artery disease.

While some researchers attribute this to side effects of the antiviral drugs, a new study indicates that HIV directly interacts with artery cells and may thereby predispose infected people to heart attacks.

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