Can HIV Cause Kidney Failure?

HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) sample

Yes, HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) can cause kidney failure. HIV can affect the kidneys directly, leading to several kidney-related complications, including HIV-associated nephropathy (HIVAN).

HIVAN is a kidney disease specific to individuals living with HIV. It primarily affects people of African descent and is more common in those who have poorly controlled HIV or a low CD4 cell count (a type of immune cell targeted by HIV). HIVAN can lead to progressive kidney damage, ultimately resulting in kidney failure if left untreated.

Additionally, HIV can indirectly contribute to kidney problems through various mechanisms:

  • HIV-associated immune complex kidney disease: HIV can trigger immune system responses that affect the kidneys, leading to inflammation and kidney damage.
  • Medication-related kidney damage: Some antiretroviral medications used to treat HIV can have side effects that impact kidney function. While these medications are essential for managing HIV, some may require adjustments or close monitoring to minimize kidney-related complications.
  • Opportunistic infections: HIV weakens the immune system, making individuals more susceptible to various infections. Some infections, such as certain types of viruses or bacteria, can directly affect the kidneys and contribute to kidney damage.

Early detection and proper management of kidney complications in individuals with HIV are crucial in preventing or slowing the progression of kidney disease. Regular monitoring of kidney function through blood tests and urine tests, along with appropriate medical care, can help manage kidney-related issues in people living with HIV. Consultation with healthcare providers experienced in both HIV care and kidney disease management is important for optimal treatment and prevention of kidney complications in individuals with HIV.

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