The exact cause of lipodystrophy is unknown. It may be due to HIV infection or medicines used to treat HIV. Although more research is needed to prove that there is a link between HIV medicines and lipodystrophy, some HIV medicines have been associated with the condition. Newer HIV medicines are less likely to cause lipodystrophy than HIV medicines developed in the past.
Other risk factors for lipodystrophy include:
- Age: Older people are at higher risk.
- Race: Whites have the highest risk.
- Gender: Men are more likely to have fat loss in the arms and legs. Women are more likely to have buildup of breast and abdominal fat.
- Length and severity of HIV infection: The risk is higher with longer and more severe HIV infection.