Women with HIV may be living longer, but they are also affected more by menopausal symptoms (such as hot flashes) than women without the virus, a new study suggests.
Researchers, led by Sara Looby of Massachusetts General Hospital, found that compared to HIV-negative perimenopausal women, “periomenopausal HIV-infected women experience greater hot flash severity and greater hot flash-related interference with daily activities and quality of life.”
The study, published online July 3 in the journal Menopause, surveyed 33 HIV-positive women aged 45-48 who are classified as perimenopausal, or with irregular menstrual cycles. Their responses were compared to perimenopausal women without HIV.
Results showed that as compared to a typical perimenopausal woman experiencing mild hot flashes, women with HIV experience moderate hot flashes. In addition, they are more likely to suffer from sleep problems, depressed moods, anxiety, irritability, and interference with daily life.
Most concerning was the finding that women with HIV’s menopausal symptoms could interfere with the ability to adhere to drug therapy and abstain from drugs and alcohol.
It’s not yet clear why hot flashes are worse in women with HIV, the researchers said, and more research is needed to learn the answers.