People living with HIV are at increased risk of developing frailty during middle age compared with their HIV-negative peers, even after accounting for various other factors that affect frailty risk, aidsmap reports. Publishing their findings in the journal AIDS, researchers in the Dutch AGEhIV Cohort Study looked at 512 HIV-positive people and 513 HIV-negative matched controls, all of whom were at least 45 years old upon entering the study and recruited between 2010 and 2012.

On average, the participants were 53 years old. The HIV-positive group was more likely to be coinfected with hepatitis C virus (HCV).

The researchers assessed the participants for frailty or prefrailty (a milder, potentially reversible form of the condition) according to criteria in five categories: recent unintentional weight loss; low physical activity; exhaustion; low grip strength; and slow walking speed.

Between the HIV-positive and HIV-negative groups, the respective frailty prevalence was 10.6 percent and 2.7 percent, while for prefrailty the respective rates were 50.7 percent and 36.3 percent. After adjusting the data for age, sex, race or ethnicity, smoking, hep C infection, other illnesses, and depression, being HIV positive was still associated with a 2.16 greater odds of having frailty or prefrailty.

Then, after further taking into account waist-to-hip ratio differences between the participants, HIV was associated with a 1.93-fold greater increased risk of frailty or prefrailty. Adjusting the data for BMI also attenuated the increased risk associated with HIV, reducing the figure from 2.16- to 1.74-fold increased risk of frailty or prefrailty.

Among the HIV-positive individuals, the strongest factors related to frailty and prefrailty risk were related to body composition. Those with a BMI below 20 were 2.83 times more likely to have frailty or prefrailty, while those who had ever had a BMI below 20 were 2.51 times more likely to have either condition, and those with a lower waist-to-hip ratio were 1.79 times more likely to have frailty or prefrailty for every 0.1 point higher in the ratio.

To read the aidsmap article, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.

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