Factors associated with sexual dysfunction in HIV patients

Svilen Konov, HIV i-Base

A prospective study, started in 2000, followed 279 HIV-infected patients, in an attempt to discover the reasons behind sexual dysfunction. [1] The data have been obtained via semi-structured interviews and DSM-IV criteria were used to categorise the sexual alterations. Likert scales were used to grade the patient nformation related to their own treatment.

Upon enrolling in the study, 59% of the study population had been HIV-seropositive for more than 10 years, 29% between 5-10 years, and 12% for less than 5 years.

Some difficulties in terms of analysis of the data were experienced as sexual casuistry is multifactorial and involves many variables.

The major reasons for sexual dysfunction, however, appear to be duration of HIV-infection and combination of treatments. Sexual inhibition and incapacity resulted in psychological problems in 77% of the study population.

A second study looked at the sexual dysfunction in HIV-seropositive women in particular. [2] 75 HIV-positive and 50 HIV-negative women were examined via semi-standardised self-report questionnaire. Complete withdrawal from sexual activities occurred in more than 25% of the HIV-positive patients and additional 25% felt that their sex life was been impaired by the side effects of HAART. The study suggests that additional assessment and support of sexual dysfunction amoungst HIV-seropositive women is required.


Several other studies have described an association between sexual dysfunction and the use of PIs. However, these were generally linked with data from the early days of PI use and larger more recent studied have not been performed.


  1. Canoves D, Ortega E, Ballester JE et al. Factors associated with the sexual dysfunction in HIV patients. 10th European AIDS Conference/EACS, November 17-20, 2005, Dublin, Ireland. Abstract PE10.2/1.
  2. Sonnenberg-Schwan U, Kastner R, Muller M et al. Sexual dysfunctions in HIV-positive women. 10th European AIDS Conference/EACS, November 17-20, 2005, Dublin, Ireland. Abstract PE10.2/2.

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