Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) is considered a global epidemic with over 65 million people worldwide infected with the HIV-1 virus, the causative agent [1]. The development of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has significantly increased the life expectancy of people infected with the virus by slowing the progression to the development of AIDS. However, the treatment has also led to the emergence of early onset cardiovascular complications including myocardial infarction [2] and atherosclerotic lesions [3], as well as subclinical markers of atherosclerosis including increased carotid artery intima-media thickness [4], increased arterial stiffness [5–6], and endothelial dysfunction [6]. It appears that HAART and HIV-1-infection are independent risk factors for the development of atherosclerosis in adults [7]; however, the mechanism of disease progression remains unclear. There is a pressing need to identify mechanisms of early on-set cardiovascular disease associated with HIV-1 infection and HAART and to identify therapeutic strategies to reduce cardiovascular disease in HIV patients. The overall goal of this study is to test the hypothesis that over-expression of HIV proteins will lead to alterations in the biomechanical properties of large arteries.

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