Atherosclerosis is consistently higher among the HIV-positive patients, with or without treatment, than among the HIV-negative population. Risk factors linked to atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease in HIV infection are both traditional and HIV specific although the underlying mechanisms are not fully delineated. Three key sequential biological processes are postulated to accelerate progression of atherosclerosis in the context of HIV: (1) inflammation, (2) transformation of monocytes to macrophages and then foam cells, and (3) apoptosis of foam cells leading to plaque development through Ca-dependent endoplasmic reticulum stress. These proatherogenic mechanisms are further affected when HIV interacts with the genes involved in various phases within this network. © 2013 American Heart Association, Inc.