Impacts on Health

HIV can damage more than just the immune system. The virus is known to directly harm specific tissues of the body and lead to long term health complications. Combined antiretroviral therapy may prevent some of this damage, but it comes with risks as well.

Click parts of the diagram below to learn about how HIV and cART may impact the body.

Body Diagram

Select organs from the body outline to see how they are affected by HIV and combination antiretroviral therapies.

Body Diagram
Kidney Brain Kidney Eye Lymph nodes Lungs Lungs Heart Liver Stomach Intestines Blood vessels Bones Nerves Skin Eye

Kidney

HIV:

  • Acute or chronic kidney disease
  • Kidney failure
  • Urine crystallization

cART:

  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Renal toxicity

Brain

HIV:

  • Memory loss
  • Severe mood swings, depression, anxiety
  • Loss of physical coordination
  • Incontinence
  • Cytomegalovirus
  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Leukoencephalopathy
  • Cryptococcal meningitis

cART: 

  • Distal neuropathic pain
  • Depression, anxiety, mood changes
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Persistent virus in CNS (drugs can't cross blood-brain barrier)

Kidney

HIV:

  • Acute or chronic kidney disease
  • Kidney failure
  • Urine crystallization

cART:

  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Renal toxicity

Sources: PMID 31064340

Eye

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Lymph nodes

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Lungs

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Lungs

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Heart

Liver

Stomach

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Intestines

HIV:

  • Frequent infection of gastrointestinal-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT)
  • Intense inflammatory response
  • Diarrhea
  • Microbial translocation

cART:

  • Diarrhea
  • Weight changes

Source: PMID 21547005

Blood vessels

Bones

Nerves

Skin

Eye