The prevalence of hearing impairment in the 6 months-5 years HIV/AIDS-positive patients attending paediatric infectious disease clinic at Mulago Hospital

Ndoleriire Christopher, Turitwenka Edward, Bakeera-Kitaaka Sabrina, Nyabigambo Agnes
International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology 2013, 77 (2): 262-5

INTRODUCTION: Hearing impairment is one form of disability in children living with HIV/AIDS. It greatly interferes with their language development, communication and performance. These are stressful to the children and their caretakers. With increasing availability of free anti-retroviral therapy, children with HIV/AIDS are living much longer. Therefore efforts must be made to reduce the disability resulting from hearing impairment among children living with HIV.

OBJECTIVE: The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence, types and severity of hearing loss in HIV positive pediatric patients between 6 months and 5 years of age attending PIDC, Mulago Hospital Uganda.

METHODS: This was a descriptive cross sectional study among 370 HIV/AIDS pediatric patients between 6 months and 5 years of age at PIDC Mulago. In this study, hearing impairment was defined as any auditory brainstem response (ABR) average threshold of over 25 dBnHL at frequencies of 500 Hz to 4000 Hz. This was done using a VIVOSONIC VIVOLINK ABR machine and a tympanogram was acquired from each ear. Systematic random sampling was carried out to reach individual participants. Proportions were used to estimate prevalence of hearing impairment in this age group.

RESULTS: A total of 370 participants were recruited, with mean age of 38 months and median age of 36 months. The ratio of male to female was 1:1. The majority 172/370 (46.5%) of the participants were of WHO stage III. The prevalence of hearing loss in the 6 months to 5 years HIV/AIDS positive patients was found to be 121/370 (33.0%). The majority 77/121 (64.0%) of the participants had sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL). Of these with SNHL 44% had mild (26-40 dBHL) hearing loss.

CONCLUSIONS: The prevalence of hearing among pediatric HIV/AIDS patients between the 6 months and 5 years was found to be high with sensorineural hearing loss being the most prevalent. Therefore HIV/AIDS paediatric patients should have routine screening for hearing impairment. A prospective cohort study should be designed to assess the risk of acquisition of hearing loss in children living with HIV.

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