Report from the Aging and HIV Workshop- Frailty

Today was the start of the first international workshop on Aging and HIV in Baltimore.

The program was started by Dr L. Ferrucci who gave the first presentation on frailty. He works in geriatrics and presented general data from previous studies in the general aging HIV negative population. He presented compelling data that showed that people lose lean body mass (via a syndrome. called age related sarcopenia) and strength in people as they age, and those decreases are correlated to higher mortality. Also, inflammation markers like interleukin 6 increase with age, and levels of over 2.5 pg/ml in the blood have been linked to disability due to loss of muscle strength and mass. He also added that aging related inflammation can decrease brain volume and may be implicated in depression and other health issues.

Dr Joseph Margolick from the MACS Cohort presented previously published frailty data from this cohort that followed 4959 men who have sex with men since 1984 until 2006. Some of these men got infected with HIV and have been followed up before and after infection. A total of 1045 patients with HIV were followed. 75% of them had undetectable HIV viral load.

The frailty related phenotype (FRP) (i.e., the physical characteristics of frailty) was identified using 1 item selected from the questionnaires for each of the following 4 components: weight loss (answer yes to since your last visit, have you had unintentional weight loss of at least 10 pounds), exhaustion [answer yes to during the past 4 weeks, as a result of your physical health, have you had difficulty performing your work or other activities (for example, it took extra effort)?], slowness (answer yes, limited a lot to does your health now limit you in walking several blocks?), and low physical activity level (answer yes, limited a lot to does your health now limit you in vigorous activities, such as running, lifting heavy objects, participating in strenuous sports?). The assessment of weakness (ie, grip strength) was not incorporated into the MACS protocol until October 2005 and therefore could not be used in defining the FRP. A participant was considered as having the FRP at the visit if at least 3 of the 4 components were present. The FRP thus defined had a prevalence of 4.4% among MACS HIV-uninfected men aged 65 years and older, which was similar to the prevalence of frailty observed in the Cardiovascular Health Study for men of similar ages.

Frailty improved with the introduction of HAART. However, after adjusting for most important factors, frailty was still higher in HIV+ men compared to HIV- men. In fact, frailty of a 55 year old HIV+ man may be similar to that of a 65 year old HIV negative man.

Basal metabolic rate has also been found to be higher in HIV+ men compared to HIV- ones.

No therapeutic intervention data was presented to review the effect of exercise, testosterone replacement, and other factors on frailty in HIV+ men.

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