Pain common among HIV-positive individuals

Pain occurs in more than half of HIV-positive┬ápeople, but the type of pain varies depending on the way that the infection was transmitted and on the patient’s current care setting.

In a study reported in the February issue of AIDS Patient Care and STDs, Dr. Cosmo Del Borgo, from Catholic University, in Rome, and colleagues assessed the prevalence of pain and its associated risk factors in a group of 153 HIV-positive patients who were admitted to a teaching hospital over a 7-month period.

The Italian Pain Questionnaire was used to determine the presence and character of pain. The self-administered test is divided into four classes – sensory, affective, evaluative, and miscellaneous – covering a total of 16 subclassifications. Pain occurred in 93 patients (60.8%) at a total of 131 sites, the investigators report. Inpatients tended to experience more intense pain and nonsensorial components than outpatients. In most patients, the cause of pain was not determined at the time of their visit.

The authors found that pain was significantly more common among intravenous drug users (IDU) than among individuals infected through other modalities. Non-IDUs scored higher on the sensory component of the questionnaire, while IDUs scored higher on the affective component. “The use of a self-administered multidimensional instrument could improve communication between patients and healthcare providers allowing a better understanding of the quality of pain,” Dr. Del Borgo’s team points out.

The researchers believe that “for the large proportion of undetermined causes of pain in HIV disease, the assessment of different components, integrated in a multidisciplinary assessment battery of psychosocial aspects, could help to select and monitor appropriate interventions in pain control.”


AIDS Patient Care STDs 2001;15:95-102.

Source: Reuters Health

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