Asthma prevalence high in HIV-positive men

In HIV-positive men, the prevalence of asthma-associated symptoms such as wheezing may be twice as great as it is in their seronegative counterparts, according to Canadian researchers.

Dr. Pierre Ernst and colleagues at McGill University in Montréal compared the prevalence of asthma and related conditions in 248 HIV-positive men with that in 236 comparable randomly selected HIV-negative men.

The researchers report in the August 15th issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, that the prevalence of symptoms was significantly greater in the seropositive men.

Wheezing was more common (54.4% versus 21.2%), as was bronchial hyper responsiveness (BHR) to methacholine (26.2% versus 14.4%) and elevated total serum IgE (37.8% versus 25.7%).

In the seropositive group, 66% of smokers and 35.8% of nonsmokers had current wheeze. Corresponding figures for BHR were 30.1% and 20%. Airway calibre and elevated IgE, say the investigators, were the principal determinants of BHR in this group.

Given these findings, Dr. Ernst told Reuters Health that “asthma may be under recognized and under treated among the HIV population.” Furthermore, “HIV-positive individuals may be particularly susceptible to the adverse effects of smoking and appear to be at high risk of developing early emphysema.”

This, he added, “may become a significant source of disability as HIV infection becomes better controlled.”


Poirier CD et al. Prevalence of bronchial hyper responsiveness among HIV-infected men. Am J Respir Crit Care Med 2001; 164:542-545.

Source: Reuters Health

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