Background: Although fracture rates are higher in HIV+ than HIV- women, whether HIV infection increases risk of falls is unclear. We determined the longitudinal occurrence and risk factors for falls in the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS), and explored associations with cognitive complaints.
Methods: Recent (prior 6 months) self-reported falls were collected in 1,816 (1,250 HIV+; 566 HIV-) women over 24 months. Generalized estimating equation models using stepwise selection determined odds of any fall (versus none).
Results: HIV+ women were older than HIV- women (median 49 versus 47 years; P=0.0004), more likely to report neuropathy (20% versus 16%; P=0.023), and had greater central nervous system (CNS) medication use. At least one fall was reported in 41% HIV+ versus 42% HIV- women, including ≥2 falls in 25% HIV+ and 24% HIV- (overall P=0.30). Cognitive complaints were associated with falls among HIV+ (odds ratio [OR] 2.38; 95% CI 1.83, 3.09) and HIV- women (OR 3.43; 95% CI 2.37, 4.97); in adjusted models, cognitive complaints remained significant only in HIV- women (adjusted [aOR] 2.26; 95% CI 1.46, 3.48). Factors associated with any fall in adjusted analyses included: depressive symptoms and neuropathy (both HIV+ and HIV-); age, marijuana use, multiple CNS medications, and HCV infection (HIV+ only); and cognitive complaints, quality of life, hypertension and obesity (HIV- only).
Conclusions: Middle-aged HIV+ and HIV- women had similar fall rates. Among HIV+ women, factors affecting cognition such as age, depressive symptoms, marijuana use and multiple CNS medications were important predictors of falls, however, cognitive complaints were not.