HealthDay News — HIV-positive adult patients tend to have worse hearing compared with those not infected with the virus, results of a study published in JAMA Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery indicate.

“To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate that HIV-positive individuals have poorer hearing across the frequency range after many other factors known to affect hearing have been controlled for,” wrote Peter Torre III, PhD, of San Diego State University, and colleagues.

To determine whether HIV disease variables and antiretroviral therapy are associated with pure-tone thresholds, the investigators evaluated the pure-tone thresholds of 262 men and 134 women, of whom 105 were HIV-positive.

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Patients with HIV tended to have worse lower- and higher-frequency hearing. This was true even after the researchers took other factors into account, such as a person’s long-term exposure to antiretroviral therapy or their HIV viral load.

“High-frequency hearing loss is consistent with an accelerated aging (presbycusis); low-frequency hearing loss in middle age is unexpected,” concluded the researchers.

“Because some vowels and consonants have predominantly low-frequency acoustic energy, poor low-frequency hearing may impair communication in HIV+ individuals.”


  1. Torre P et al. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2014; doi: 10.1001/jamaoto.2014.3302