In a study of medically complex people living with HIV, symptomatic cognitive impairment was associated with physical frailty, researchers reported in AIDS. The same was not found to be true of asymptomatic cognitive issues.
The findings add to a study we reported last year showing that frailty and neurocognitive impairment both predict poorer health outcomes among older PLWH.
The current study analyzed data on 332 PLWH (23% women) with a mean 2.7 comorbidities. Twenty-two percent of participants were frail, 55% prefrail, and 23% robust, based on the Fried Frailty Index. Overall, 11% of the cohort had HIV-associated dementia (HAD), but in the frail group, 21% were diagnosed with HAD compared to 3% in the robust group. Frailty was also more common among women and those with depressive symptoms, as well as those with diabetes mellitus or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
It is unclear whether people become depressed because they are physically frail, or the other way around, or whether both problems develop independently, study authors noted. They called for more research into the association between frailty and cognitive issues to determine whether some aspects can be modified.