Background: Little is known about hearing loss in children with HIV infection (HIV+). We examined the prevalence of hearing loss in perinatally HIV+ and HIV-exposed but uninfected (HEU) children, compared these with the percentage with hearing loss in the general population and evaluated possible risk factors for hearing loss in HIV+ and HEU children.
Methods: Audiometric examinations were completed in children who met any prespecified criteria for possible hearing loss. The hearing examination consisted of a tympanogram in each ear and pure-tone air-conduction threshold testing from 500 through 4000 Hz. Hearing loss was defined as the pure-tone average over these frequencies ≥20 dB hearing level. The associations of demographic variables, parent/caregiver, HIV disease and HIV treatment with hearing loss were evaluated with univariate and multivariable logistic regression models.
Results: Hearing testing was completed in 231 children (145 HIV+ and 86 HEU). Hearing loss occurred in 20.0% of HIV+ children and 10.5% of HEU children. After adjusting for caregiver education level, HIV infection was associated with increased odds of hearing loss (adjusted odds ratio = 2.13, 95% confidence interval: 0.95–4.76, P = 0.07). Among HIV+ children, those with a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention class C diagnosis had over twice the odds of hearing loss (adjusted odds ratio = 2.47, 95% confidence interval: 1.04–5.87, P = 0.04). The prevalence of hearing loss was higher in both HIV+ and HEU children compared with National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III children.
Conclusions: Hearing loss was more common in both HIV+ and HEU children than in children from a US population sample. More advanced HIV illness increased the risk of hearing loss in HIV+ children.