Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

HIV & AIDS Health Center

Font Size

Statins May Help Curb Spread of HIV in Body

Study Shows Modest Control of Virus in Patients Taking Cholesterol-Lowering Drugs
WebMD Health News

July 27, 2005 (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) -- In the latest research to suggest that the popular cholesterol-lowering drugs known as statins are good for more than the heart, a new study hints that the medications may help curb the spread of HIV throughout the body.

In the study of nearly 4,000 HIV-infected people, those taking statins tended to have lower levels of the virus in their blood compared with those not taking the medications, says researcher Homayoon Khanlou, MD, of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Sherman Oaks, Calif.

"The use of statins may improve, although modestly, control of the virus," Khanlou tells WebMD. Even a little improvement may be noteworthy given the large number of HIV-infected people who are taking AIDS medications called protease inhibitors, he says.

The drugs have greatly improved HIV treatment, but they can cause levels of cholesterol and triglycerides to skyrocket -- leading doctors to prescribe statins.

Statins Linked to Lower HIV Levels

For the study, the researchers first looked at HIV control in 2,282 HIV-infected people who were taking a protease inhibitor, 315 of whom were also taking a statin for at least 12 months.

The study showed that 84% of those taking statins had low levels of HIV in their blood, compared with 67% of those not on statins.

Then the researchers looked at 1,487 HIV-infected people who were taking some type of AIDS medication other than a protease inhibitor; 163 of these people were also on a statin.

In this group, 91% of those on statins had low HIV levels vs. 79% of those not on statins. People in the study were taking one of three statins -- Lipitor, Pravachol, or Crestor.

The researchers did not look at whether the type or dose of statins affected the results, although they hope to do so in the future.

Also, the information about statins is based on medical records, so it's not possible to say whether the people who were given the drugs actually took them properly.

Provocative but More Info Needed

It makes sense that statins could have an anti-HIV effect, Khanlou says, as laboratory studies suggest they may block an enzyme critical for HIV replication and spread.

Further study is warranted, agree researchers who heard about the results at a meeting of the International AIDS Society.

William F. Owen Jr., MD, an AIDS specialist at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco, tells WebMD that while preliminary, "the findings are very provocative."

In the meantime, researchers warn that HIV-infected people shouldn't start taking statins unless prescribed by their doctors for high cholesterol. Side effects of statins include gas, constipation, and a rare but potentially serious form of muscle damage.

Today on WebMD

How much do you know?
contemplative man
What to do now.
Should you be tested?
HIV under microscope
What does it mean?
HIV AIDS Screening
man opening condom wrapper
HIV AIDS Treatment
Discrimination Stigma
Treatment Side Effects
grilled chicken and vegetables
obese man standing on scale
cold sore