Hearing Loss More Common in Adults With HIV Adults who are HIV-positive are more likely to experience hearing loss—affecting high and low frequencies and unrelated to disease progression or use of HIV medications—than adults who do not have HIV, according to research in JAMA-Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, audiology professor Peter Torre ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   February 01, 2015
Hearing Loss More Common in Adults With HIV
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Hearing Disorders / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   February 01, 2015
Hearing Loss More Common in Adults With HIV
The ASHA Leader, February 2015, Vol. 20, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB8.20022015.np
The ASHA Leader, February 2015, Vol. 20, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB8.20022015.np
Adults who are HIV-positive are more likely to experience hearing loss—affecting high and low frequencies and unrelated to disease progression or use of HIV medications—than adults who do not have HIV, according to research in JAMA-Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.
Funded by the National Institutes of Health, audiology professor Peter Torre III of San Diego State University and researchers from NIH, Johns Hopkins University and Georgetown University expanded on earlier research that suggested an increased risk of hearing loss in adults with HIV.
Other studies have also found that children exposed to HIV prenatally are at increased risk of hearing loss by age 16. In addition, studies that found a link between diabetes and hearing loss in adults also suggest a possible connection between hearing loss and chronic, systemic diseases.
The researchers recruited participants with and without HIV from two NIH long-standing, HIV-cohort studies. A total of 397 adults—262 men, of whom 117 were HIV-positive, and 134 women, of whom 105 were HIV-positive—participated in the study.
Each participant had a standard clinical hearing test at a university-based audiology clinic and completed a hearing-related questionnaire developed from the Hearing Supplement to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey. Researchers collected data on participants’ history of taking and adherence to HIV treatments and measured participants’ white blood cell count and viral load (the amount of HIV in the blood) to determine disease progression.
The men and women with HIV had an average threshold for hearing tones of about 10 decibels higher than the participants without HIV.
Although hearing loss at higher frequencies is common among middle-aged adults, men and women with HIV in the study also experienced a decrease in their ability to hear lower frequencies, regardless of the use of HIV medications or the severity of disease progression. The inability to hear at lower frequencies can affect a person’s ability to distinguish vowel sounds and some consonant sounds, making communication and word recognition difficult.
The researchers indicate that this study is the first to demonstrate that people with HIV may have poorer hearing across the frequency range after controlling for many other factors known to affect hearing. They also suggest that chronic conditions such as HIV and diabetes have a systemic impact that affects hearing, and that future studies will aim to identify those underlying mechanisms.
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February 2015
Volume 20, Issue 2