Background: Most HIV-seropositive subjects in western countries receive highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Although many aspects of their health have been studied, little is known about their vestibular and balance function. The goals of this study were to determine the prevalences of vestibular and balance impairments among HIV-seropositive and comparable seronegative men and women and to determine if those groups differed.
Methods: Standard screening tests of vestibular and balance function, including head thrusts, Dix-Hallpike maneuvers, and Romberg balance tests on compliant foam were performed during semiannual study visits of participants who were enrolled in the Baltimore and Washington, D. C. sites of the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study and the Women's Interagency HIV Study.
Results: No significant differences by HIV status were found on most tests, but HIV-seropositive subjects who were using HAART had a lower frequency of abnormal Dix-Hallpike nystagmus than HIV-seronegative subjects. A significant number of nonclassical Dix-Hallpike responses were found. Age was associated with Romberg scores on foam with eyes closed. Sex was not associated with any of the test scores.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that HAART-treated HIV infection has no harmful association with vestibular function in community-dwelling, ambulatory men and women. The association with age was expected, but the lack of association with sex was unexpected. The presence of nonclassical Dix-Hallpike responses might be consistent with central nervous system lesions.