Risk of cardiovascular events from current, recent, and cumulative exposure to abacavir among persons living with HIV who were receiving antiretroviral therapy in the United States: A cohort study

Kunchok Dorjee, Sanjiv M. Baxi, Arthur L. Reingold, Alan Hubbard

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Background: There is ongoing controversy regarding abacavir use in the treatment of HIV infection and the risk of subsequent development of cardiovascular disease. It is unclear how the risk varies as exposure accumulates. Methods: Using an administrative health-plan dataset, risk of cardiovascular disease events (CVDe), defined as the first episode of an acute myocardial infarction or a coronary intervention procedure, associated with abacavir exposure was assessed among HIV-infected individuals receiving antiretroviral therapy across the U.S. from October 2009 through December 2014. The data were longitudinal, and analyzed using marginal structural models. Results: Over 114,470 person-years (n = 72,733) of ART exposure, 714 CVDe occurred at an incidence rate (IR) (95% CI) of 6·23 (5·80, 6·71)/1000 person-years. Individuals exposed to abacavir had a higher IR of CVDe of 9·74 (8·24, 11·52)/1000 person-years as compared to 5·75 (5·30, 6·24)/1000 person-years for those exposed to other antiretroviral agents. The hazard (HR; 95% CI) of CVDe was increased for current (1·43; 1·18, 1·73), recent (1·41; 1·16, 1·70), and cumulative [(1·18; 1·06, 1·31) per year] exposure to abacavir. The risk for cumulative exposure followed a bell-shaped dose-response curve peaking at 24-months of exposure. Risk was similarly elevated among participants free of pre-existing heart disease or history of illicit substance use at baseline. Conclusion: Current, recent, and cumulative use of abacavir was associated with an increased risk of CVDe. The findings were consistent irrespective of underlying cardiovascular risk factors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number708
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 27 2017



  • Abacavir
  • Anti-retroviral therapy
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • HIV

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases

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