Nephropathy, HIV-Associated (HIVAN)


  • HIV-1


  • Aggressive, collapsing form of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis (FSGS).
    • Nephrotic-range proteinuria may be massive and predate renal insufficiency.
    • Rapid progression to ESRD without treatment.
  • Strong genetic predisposition, predominance in patients of African descent.[6] Other risk factors: low CD4, high VL, and family history of renal disease.
  • Manifests as AIDS-defining, late-stage illness (CD4< 200) or during acute HIV infection.


  • Biopsy is gold standard for Dx. Other markers (eg, proteinuria, CD4, VL) are non-specific.
    • Proteinuria, urinalysis typically bland; nephritic profile suggests other Dx.
  • Urgent renal Bx indicated for significant proteinuria (>1g/24h), increasing proteinuria, decreasing GFR, or unexplained acute or subacute renal failure.
  • Pathognomonic features: FSGS, collapsing variant; interstitial inflammation +/- fibrosis; microcystic tubular dilatation; tubuloreticular inclusions on EM.
  • Renal ultrasound: echogenic kidneys of normal-to-enlarged size.
  • Without Bx, DDx includes: primary FSGS, immune complex glomerulonephritis (GN), hepatitis B or C-assocaited GN, drug-induced interstitial nephritis, amyloidosis, IgA nephropathy, injection drug use nephrotoxicity, thrombotic microangiopathy, ATN.
  • Assessment of kidney function:
    • Measure eGFR at ART initiation or change, and at least 2x/year in stable HIV+ pts.[1] Pts of African desent, with CD4< 200, high VL, DM, HTN, hepatitis B or C,[4] or family Hx of kidney disease are at greater risk for kidney damage. Additional risk factors: hx of cocaine or cigarette use, or dyslipidemia.[2]
  • Assessment of kidney damage:
    • Urinalysis or quantitative measure of albuminuria/proteinuria at baseline, ART initiation or change, and at least annually in HIV+ pts.[1]
    • Proteinuria ≥1+ on dipstick, clinically significant albuminuria >300 mg/day (nondiabetics) OR >30 mg/day (diabetics), GFR decline >25% from baseline, or GFR < 60ml/min/1.73m2 merit renal ultrasound, early referral to nephrologist, and renal Bx.[1]


Approach to therapy

  • Immediate ART most likely to reverse or stabilize renal dysfunction, prevent progression, and improve long-term renal and pt survival.
  • BP should be kept < 130/80 with use of ACE inhibitors or angiotensin receptor blockers (ACEi/ARB) since they may reverse proteinuria and renal insufficiency and prevent progression to ESRD.
    • Calcium channel blockers should be avoided initially due to potential interactions with some ARV agents.
  • Corticosteroids adjunct to ART +/- ACEi/ARB. Initial response may be dramatic, even reversing dialysis dependence, but transient.
  • Preserve venous access by avoiding peripherally inserted central venous catheters and subclavian central venous catheters in those who may need permanent hemodialysis access.[1]
  • Blood glucose control in those with DM.
  • Review all medications including over-the-counter medications for those with renal toxicity or those requiring renal dose-adjustment.


  • Initiate ART
    • Consider ABC/3TC, check HLA-B*5701 status
    • Avoid potentially nephrotoxic antiretrovirals: TDF (glomerular and tubular toxicity), ATV and IDV (nephrolithiasis and interstitial nephritis).

Angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and angiotensin receptors blockers (ARBs)

  • Antiproteinuric and reno-protective properties are independent of antihypertensive effect.
  • Reduce rate of progression of proteinuria and nephropathy
  • May cause or exacerbate hyperkalemia


  • Observational data suggest corticosteroid therapy can rapidly, but transiently, reverse HIVAN
  • Prednisone 1 mg/kg (up to 80 mg PO qd) for 2 mo, then tapered over 2-4 mos
  • Exclude OIs before initiating corticosteroids and maintain vigilance for new OIs


  • Monitor serum creatinine and spot urine protein/creatinine ratio

Basis for recommendation

  1. Lucas GM, Ross MJ, Stock PG, et al. Clinical practice guideline for the management of chronic kidney disease in patients infected with HIV: 2014 update by the HIV Medicine Association of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. Clin Infect Dis. 2014;59(9):e96-138.  [PMID:25234519]

    Comment: HIV Medicine Association of IDSA clinical practice guidelines detail diagnostics for evaluation of HIV-related chronic kidney disease. Routine screening includes eGFR by CKD-EPI creatinine equation or the Cockcroft-Gault equation and urinalysis or quantitative measure of albuminuria/proteinuria. In those patients with GFR < 60, avoidance of tenofovir recommended.


  1. Scherzer R, Gandhi M, Estrella MM, et al. A chronic kidney disease risk score to determine tenofovir safety in a prospective cohort of HIV-positive male veterans. AIDS. 2014;28(9):1289-95.  [PMID:24922479]

    Comment: Based on VA data of 21,590 HIV+ men, authors developed CKD risk score to predict absolute 5-year risk of developing CKD, defined as two consecutive measurements of eGFR < 60 at least 3 months apart and not obtained during inpatient admissions. Risk factors included: age, glucose >140, SBP >140, HTN, TG >200, proteinuria >30mg/dl, and CD4 < 200. After controlling for risk factors via risk score, overall RR of CKD was two-fold higher in TDF ever vs never users.
    Rating: Important

  2. Foy MC, Estrella MM, Lucas GM, et al. Comparison of risk factors and outcomes in HIV immune complex kidney disease and HIV-associated nephropathy. Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2013;8(9):1524-32.  [PMID:23685946]

    Comment: Nested case-control study of 751 HIV+ patients followed 1996-2010 found HIVICK assocaited with VL >400 (OR, 3.0; 95%CI, 1.2-5.2), diabetes (OR, 2.8; 95%CI, 1.1-6.8), and hypertension (OR, 2.3; 95%CI, 1.2-4.5). Compared with HIVAN, pts with HIVICK had more ART exposure, lower VL, and higher CD4 and eGFR. ESRD was less common in HIVICK vs HIVAN (30% vs 82%; P< 0.001).

  3. Lucas GM, Jing Y, Sulkowski M, et al. Hepatitis C viremia and the risk of chronic kidney disease in HIV-infected individuals. J Infect Dis. 2013;208(8):1240-9.  [PMID:23904290]

    Comment: NA-ACCORD study of 93,495 HIV+ people in US and Canada compared CKD incidence in HCV seronegative, HCV viremic, and HCV aviremic participants. HCV seropositive pts with or without viremia were at increased risk for CKD.
    Rating: Important

  4. Yahaya I, Uthman OA, Uthman MM. Interventions for HIV-associated nephropathy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2013;1:CD007183.  [PMID:23440812]

    Comment: Analytical review supports ART to treat HIVAN with evidence to support improvement in kidney function associated with VL suppression. Adjunct treatment includes avoidance of nephrotoxins, routine measurement of eGFR, and assessment for proteinuria.
    Rating: Important

  5. Wyatt CM, Meliambro K, Klotman PE. Recent progress in HIV-associated nephropathy. Annu Rev Med. 2012;63:147-59.  [PMID:21888512]

    Comment: Epidemiology-focused review of HIVAN notes contribution of both host genetic attributes, e.g., APOL1 and MYH9 alleles, and pathogenicity of HIV. ART initation indicated to improve kidney function. Renal transplant is an alternative to dialysis in well-controlled HIV infection.

  6. Papeta N, Sterken R, Kiryluk K, et al. The molecular pathogenesis of HIV-1 associated nephropathy: recent advances. J Mol Med (Berl). 2011;89(5):429-36.  [PMID:21221512]

    Comment: Review covers pathology of HIVAN with detailed discussion of human and mouse genetic studies.

  7. Wyatt CM. The kidney in HIV infection: beyond HIV-associated nephropathy. Top Antivir Med. 2012;20(3):106-10.  [PMID:22954611]

    Comment: Reduced rates of HIVAN, due to increased numbers of HIV+ pts on ART, expose hypertension and diabetes as cause of chronic kidney disease.
    Rating: Important

Nephropathy, HIV-Associated (HIVAN) is a sample topic from the Johns Hopkins HIV Guide.

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Last updated: December 18, 2014