Objective: To provide updated estimates of the prevalence and clinical impact of human immunodeficiency virus-associated sensory neuropathy (HIV-SN) and neuropathic pain due to HIV-SN in the combination antiretroviral therapy (CART) era.
Design: Prospective, cross-sectional analysis. Clinical correlates for HIV-SN and neuropathic pain, including age, exposure to CART, CD4 levels, plasma viral load, hepatitis C virus infection, and alcohol use disorders, were evaluated in univariate and multivariate models.
Setting: Six US academic medical centers.
Patients: One thousand five hundred thirty-nine HIV-infected individuals enrolled in the CNS (Central Nervous System) HIV Anti-Retroviral Therapy Effects Research study.
Main outcome measures: The presence of HIV-SN, defined by 1 or more clinical signs (diminished vibration or sharp sensation in the legs and feet; reduced ankle reflexes) in a distal, symmetrical pattern. Neuropathic pain was defined as aching, stabbing, or burning in a similar distribution. The effect on quality of life was assessed with the Medical Outcomes Study HIV Health Survey.
Results: We found HIV-SN in 881 participants. Of these, 38.0% reported neuropathic pain. Neuropathic pain was significantly associated with disability in daily activities, unemployment, and reduced quality of life. Risk factors for HIV-SN after adjustment were advancing age (odds ratio, 2.1 [95% confidence interval, 1.8-2.5] per 10 years), lower CD4 nadir (1.2 [1.1-1.2] per 100-cell decrease), current CART use (1.6 [1.3-2.8]), and past "D-drug" use (specific dideoxynucleoside analogue antiretrovirals) (2.0 [1.3-2.6]). Risk factors for neuropathic pain were past D-drug use and higher CD4 nadir.
Conclusions: Neuropathic pain and HIV-SN remain prevalent, causing substantial disability and reduced quality of life even with successful CART. The clinical correlates of HIV-SN have changed with the evolution of treatment. These findings argue for redoubled efforts to determine HIV-SN pathogenesis and the development of symptomatic and neuroregenerative therapies.