Weighing a delicate six ounces each—that’s less than 0.5 percent of our total body weight—the kidneys play a number of vital roles. For those living with HIV, this includes breaking down some of the medications needed to keep the viral load low and CD4 counts high. Unfortunately, like other vital organs in the body, the kidneys are not immune to diseases that can impair their ability to function. About 20 million Americans—one in nine U.S. adults—have kidney disease, and another 20 million more are at risk. Studies also show that nearly one third of all HIV-positive people have abnormal amounts of protein in their urine—a sign of potential kidney trouble.
As people with HIV continue to live longer lives thanks to antiretroviral (ARV) therapy, experts reckon that kidney disease will remain a common and potentially serious health threat. Fortunately, much has been learned about HIV and kidney disease in recent years, including the best ways to screen for it, prevent it and treat it.
This lesson is intended to help HIV-positive people better understand why their kidneys are important and what steps they can take—working closely with their doctors—to protect their health