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18-03-2013 | Immunology | Article

Sensorineural hearing loss a risk for younger HIV patients


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medwireNews: People with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are at an increased risk for developing sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL) if they are aged 18 to 35 years, report researchers.

This increased risk is particularly pronounced among men with the condition, add the authors, who conducted a retrospective study of over 50,000 individuals.

"Scheduled auditory examinations for patients with HIV to assess the presence of chronic hearing impairment are advised to enable the early detection of SSHL," write Yung-Song Lin (Taipei Medical University, Taiwan) and colleagues.

As reported in JAMA Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery, the researchers used claims data available from the Taiwan National Health Insurance Research Database to identify 8760 patients diagnosed with HIV between 2001 and 2006, and 43,800 age- and gender-matched controls. They then assessed the incidence of SSHL (SSHL ≥30 dB across 3 contiguous frequencies) in both groups at the end of 2009.

The researchers found that among individuals aged 18-35 years, but no older, there was a significant 2.17-fold greater incidence of SSHL in the HIV group, compared with the control group, at rates of 4.32 versus 1.99 per 10,000 person-years.

In addition, Cox proportional hazard modeling showed that HIV adults aged under 36 years had a 2.17-fold greater risk for developing SSHL than individuals from the same age group who did not have HIV. This risk was more pronounced in men than in women, with men at a 2.3-fold greater likelihood for developing SSHL if they had HIV, compared with a 1.71-fold risk increase for women with HIV.

"The underlying reason why an increased risk of SSHL was observed only in patients younger than 36 years is unclear," say Lin et al. However, there was a trend for an increase in SSHL prevalence with increasing age in the control group, they add. And, in fact, the SSHL prevalence rate among those aged 18-35 years in the HIV group was similar to the rate found in those aged 36 years or older in the control group, leading the authors to suggest that "HIV accelerates the biological aging of patients with HIV."

In conclusion, the team recommends that individuals with HIV should be regularly monitored for the development of SSHL, and advise HIV testing in the case of bilateral SSHL if other signs or symptoms of HIV infection are present.

By Sally Robertson, medwireNews Reporter

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