Sixty-nine percent of participants in the US National NeuroAIDS Tissue Consortium study showed abnormalities – 27% of which were severe -- on a modified HIV Motor Scale that assessed various motor functions, researchers reported in Clinical Infectious Diseases. The motor scale is associated with cognitive impairment.
Impaired gait, lower coordination, and diminished strength were the most common abnormalities reported in the study. All three complications usually co-occurred, which suggests that these problems may constitute a phenotype for movement issues among PLWH, study authors wrote.
In multivariate analyses, a history of cardiovascular disease or AIDS-related central nervous system disorders was associated with a worse score on the motor scale. Ongoing CVD and prior CNS issues may be layered on top of HIV itself, contributing to this outcome, study authors hypothesized.
However, the score did not differ by age, possibly because most participants are older or have advanced disease, study authors explained. "These findings raise the question of whether motor dysfunction in HIV may be the end result of neurologic multi-morbidity, akin to the systemic multi-morbidity that has become an increasingly recognized feature of [antiretroviral treatment]-era HIV," they concluded, calling for further longitudinal studies to assess the impact of such impairments on quality of life and find interventions to improve motor function in PLWH.