Chronic Kidney Disease

The kidneys are important for maintaining the body’s balance of fluid and salts, and filtering toxins from the body. They also help to regulate blood pressure, encourage the production of red blood cells, and bone health.  

Chronic kidney disease occurs when one of two things happen: they aren’t able to filter the blood properly; or they are structurally damaged. You can lose up to 90% of your kidney function before you get any symptoms. It usually develops slowly, and affects 5-10% of people living with HIV (PLHIV).  


Importance for PLHIV50+

PLHIV are more likely to develop chronic kidney disease than the general population, and it is becoming more common as PLHIV get older. This may be directly related to HIV infection or previous or current antiviral medications. Often it is related to other medical problems, like diabetes, high blood pressure, viral hepatitis, kidney stones, or infections. Sometimes people ultimately might require dialysis or a kidney transplant.  



It is important to detect kidney disease early to prevent it from getting worse and to minimise further complications. PLHIV usually have their kidney function checked at least twice per year, and a urine test for protein at least once per year. This is usually done alongside normal blood tests with your healthcare provider. 

If kidney disease is present, you might be referred to a kidney specialist. Careful management of your blood pressure, HIV, and diabetes, in conjunction with your healthcare provider, are important to optimise your kidney health.