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THE BOTTOM LINE:
HIV is associated with an increased risk of stroke from both the effect of the virus and known risk factors. It appears that traditional risk factors, such as hypertension and smoking, may be even more elevated as risk factors. Blood vessel disease, both large and small vessel, appears to be a common causal mechanism. This observation reaffirms the need for both better management of HIV as well as addressing the known risk factors.
ABSTRACT: Stroke is a heterogeneous disease in persons living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV is thought to increase the risk of stroke through both HIV-related and traditional stroke risk factors, which vary with respect to the patient's age and clinical characteristics. Numerous studies show that detectable viremia and immunosuppression increase the risk of stroke across all ages, whereas traditional risk factors are more common in the aging population with HIV. As persons living with HIV age and acquire traditional stroke risk factors, the prevalence of stroke will likely continue to increase. Large- and small-vessel disease are the most common causes of stroke, although it is important to evaluate for infectious etiology as well. Research regarding the management of stroke in patients with HIV is scant, and recommendations often parallel those for the general population. Treatment of HIV and effective reduction of traditional stroke risk factors is important to reduce the risk of stroke in persons living with HIV. Future research will help elucidate the pathophysiology of HIV and stroke risk, investigate sex differences in stroke risk, and evaluate the safety and benefits of standard stroke preventative measures and HIV-specific interventions in this population.