HIV Impacts Patient Hearing

Study finds disease leads to worse low and high frequency hearing.

Study finds disease leads to worse low and high frequency hearing.

There may exist a link between poorer hearing and HIV, according to the results of a recent study.

Published online December 26, 2014 in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery, researchers found that patients with HIV had worse lower- and higher-frequency hearing than adults without HIV infection. This relationship, the study noted, has never been explored thoroughly in prior research.

For the study, investigators examined pure-tone hearing thresholds among 262 men, 117 of whom were HIV positive, and 134 women, 105 of whom were HIV positive. The male subjects had an average age of 57 years and the women had average age of approximately 48 years of age.

The study determined that high-frequency pure-tone average and low-frequency pure-tone average were significantly higher for the HIV positive adults compared with patients who did not have the disease. The results of the study were independent of long-term exposure to antiretroviral medications, current CD4+ cell count, and HIV viral load, the study noted.

"To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate that HIV+ individuals have poorer hearing across the frequency range after many other factors known to affect hearing have been controlled for," the authors concluded.