Objective: HIV-associated lipodystrophy is considered a sequela of highly active antiretroviral treatment. We describe the characteristics, possible etiology, and pathophysiology of HIV-associated lipodystrophy and facial lipoatrophy and establish a validated grading scale for HIV-associated facial lipoatrophy using evidence-based techniques.
Design/methods: A grading scale was designed based on the severity of each patient's facial lipoatrophy. Preoperative photographs of HIV-infected patients seeking treatment for facial lipoatrophy and control subjects were reviewed by physicians qualified in facial plastic surgery. With use of the devised grading scale, each patient was assigned a severity score. These scores were then compared for interrater variability, and the distribution of scores was analyzed.
Results: Preoperative photographs of 39 HIV-infected individuals with facial lipoatrophy and 6 normal subjects were obtained and reviewed. All patients were males. A Cohen kappa of 0.73 was calculated, and there was a fairly equal distribution of all severity grades throughout the 39 patients.
Conclusion: HIV-associated facial lipoatrophy is a major stigma for HIV patients that can have dramatic effects on their self-esteem, social habits, and medication compliance. This current study introduces a validated evidence-based grading scale that can be implemented to categorize disease severity. Using this scale will hopefully generate improved treatment plans directed to each patient, which should produce enhanced postoperative results.