In older people living with HIV, physical activity protected against cognitive impairment in women, but not in men, a cross-sectional analysis published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases showed.
Data on 195 women and 793 men participating in the ACTG A5322 study were analyzed. The mean age was 52, and participants' HIV was well controlled. On average, women had a higher body mass index and greater total cholesterol than men.
Women who were physically active (43% of women) were less likely to suffer cognitive decline than those who were more sedentary. The same did not hold true for men (55% of whom were physically active). Similarly, higher levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol appeared to protect women, but not men, from cognitive decline.
There are several plausible biological explanations for these findings, study authors noted. However, due to the study's design, no causal connections can be drawn, they cautioned. Authors called for further studies about the effect of interventions to promote greater physical activity on cognitive impairment among women living with HIV.