In a study, published in the Journal of Medicine and Healthcare, Joyce K. Anastasi, PhD, and colleagues examined associations between symptoms of distal sensory peripheral neuropathy (DSPN), comorbidities, and medication use among individuals with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) experiencing DSPN symptoms—an area the researchers stated was under-investigated. They found that, HIV DSPN “remains prevalent,” and continues to negatively affect quality of life in people living with HIV.

The trial population comprised of 353 people, aged 18 years or older, with HIV and painful lower limb (LL) peripheral neuropathy who had been screened for enrollment in a clinical trial on reducing DSPN symptoms using acupuncture/moxibustion. In a screening interview, the participants reported their age, gender, race, ethnicity, HIV status, presence of LL DSPN and DSPN symptoms, current medications, and comorbidities.

According to the report, 78% of the 353 participants rated their LL DSPN pain and discomfort as “severe” or “very severe.” Notably, nearly half of those patients were taking prescribed or over-the-counter medications, such as non-narcotic analgesics, antidepressants, and anticonvulsants, to manage their DSPN symptoms. The authors concluded that “despite the use of OTC and/or prescription pain relievers, participants reported insufficient symptom relief.”

Despite the proven efficacy of combination antiretroviral therapies (CART) at controlling viral load and maintaining healthy T-cell levels in persons living with HIV, the authors asserted that HIV DSPN was prevalent and not well managed. They closed their report with a call for novel interventions to effectively manage DSPN symptoms.

Source: Journal of Medicine and Healthcare