The Human Immunodeficiency virus causes the deadly AIDS infection that directly attacks the human immune system. In a recent study conducted by Dr. Peter Torre III and team from San Diego State University in California, the researchers have found that people who are infected with HIV have impaired low and high frequency hearing as opposed to people who are HIV negative. The study was published in JAMA Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
HIV/AIDS can be treated with a combination of drugs known as highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in order for the disease to slow down, as there is no known cause for curing the infection. The report says that, "There have been limited data obtained on the effects of HIV-related medication use on hearing loss and in the few published studies, it is difficult to attribute the increases in hearing loss specifically to HIV medication use rather than age or cumulative noise exposure."
The study involved about 262 men and 134 women, whose hearing ability was examined. Out of these, about 117 men and 105 of the women were HIV positive. The research was conducted in a sound treated room and it was found that, on an average, the high and low pure tone averages were much higher in the case of HIV positive people than those who were HIV negative.
On which, the report states, "There have been limited data obtained on the effects of HIV-related medication use on hearing loss and in the few published studies, it is difficult to attribute the increases in hearing loss specifically to HIV medication use rather than age or cumulative noise exposure. The participants were middle-aged, so an HIV effect on LPTA was not expected, given the speculation that long-term [HAART] exposure or HIV itself contributes to premature aging."
The researcher also found that patients who suffered from diabetes mellitus had notable hearing problems, which lead them to speculate that diabetes may be caused by HIV infection, which in turn causes the hearing disability by damaging the cochlea.
In conclusion, the authors say that, "Although we do not understand the mechanism of hearing loss found in our study, our results suggest that HIV+ individuals may have physiologic changes that mimic other chronic conditions that affect hearing levels."