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August 15, 2013

Increased risk of sudden hearing loss among younger HIV-patients

Younger people with HIV appear to have an augmented risk of sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL).

Increased risk of sudden hearing loss among younger HIV-patients

People with an HIV-positive diagnosis aged 35 or younger are twice as likely to develop sudden hearing loss as HIV-negative patients of all ages. Also, men are significantly more exposed to the risk of sudden hearing loss, if they have received an HIV-positive diagnosis.

These were the conclusions of Yung-Song Lin, MD of Taipei Medical University in Taiwan, and colleagues in a study published online in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery.

52,560 medical records

Lin and colleagues reviewed 8,760 medical records from Taiwan's national health insurance system of HIV-positive patients, who had been diagnosed between January 2001 and December 2006. For comparison's sake, they also included 43,800 records of people without an HIV diagnosis but with other insurance claims.

Both groups were divided up into two categories consisting of 18 to 35-year-old patients and patients older than 35. The researchers noted a considerable difference in the number of incidences of sudden hearing loss between the two age groups. Namely that the average frequency of incidences during the examined period of six years was three times higher among the younger age group.

Background for the results remains unclear

Lin and colleagues are still uncertain about the underlying mechanisms that link HIV-positive patients with a sudden sensorineural hearing loss. Therefore, it remains unclear why the effect was only prevalent among those aged under 35.

The absence of such possible risk factors as smoking history, noise exposure and information on the severity of the reported hearing losses in the insurance database, may suggest some bias.

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