Nature and extent of hearing loss in HIV-infected children: A scoping review

Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2020 Jul;134:110036. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2020.110036. Epub 2020 Apr 10.


Introduction: Antiretroviral therapy (ART) has had a major impact on life expectancy from HIV as many people now live with it as a chronic disease. Chronic HIV has been associated with a range of comorbid disabilities and health conditions, one of which is hearing loss. Undiagnosed and untreated hearing loss, particularly in children, has been linked to poorer spoken language skills, with subsequent effects on academic performance.

Methods: This systematic scoping review aimed to summarize the available peer-reviewed literature on hearing loss in HIV-infected children, specifically to describe its extent and nature. The review followed the framework proposed by Arksey and O'Malley. Key search terms included hearing loss (and synonyms), child (and synonyms), and HIV. Electronic databases (EBSCOhost Research Platform, PubMed, Web of Science and Scopus databases) were searched for any relevant articles published from January 1, 2000 to June 30, 2019. Reference lists of included articles were pearled for additional relevant articles not already identified. Each stage of the selection process was conducted independently by two authors. The results were then collated by a third author who also resolved any discrepancies. Extracted data included sample descriptors, audiologic tests, hearing loss prevalence, hearing loss descripts, and factors associated with hearing loss.

Results: Seventeen articles were included; 10 from Africa, four from South America, two from North America and the remaining article from Asia. Although most of the articles reported on pure tone audiometry, the samples as well as the cut-off criteria for normal hearing were heterogenous. Prevalence of hearing loss varied across articles (from 6% to 84%). Conductive hearing loss occurred more frequently than sensorineural or mixed hearing loss. ART use and ear infection were reported as significant in three of five articles that reported on significant associates of HIV-related hearing loss.

Conclusion: There was a modest volume of research from a limited number of countries. Heterogeneity in sampling and audiometric methods precluded a clear understanding of potential associations between chronic HIV-related hearing loss and contributing factors.

Keywords: Auditory impairment; HIV; Hearing loss; Pediatric; Scoping review.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • HIV Infections / complications*
  • Hearing Loss / diagnosis
  • Hearing Loss / epidemiology
  • Hearing Loss / virology*
  • Humans
  • Prevalence