The effect of increased physical activity on symptom burden in older persons living with HIV

Patricia A Cioe, Rebecca E F Gordon, David M Williams, Christopher W Kahler
AIDS Care 2019 April 8, : 1-7
Advancements in antiretroviral therapy have extended the longevity of people living with HIV (PLWH). However, they often experience symptoms that negatively impact their quality of life, including fatigue, weight change, depression, pain, and memory loss. Although there is a dearth of data on the effect of physical activity (PA) for HIV-associated symptom management, increased PA has generally been associated with improvements in strength and overall quality of life. In this study, we enrolled 40 participants (mean age = 51.5; 40% female; 17.4 mean years living with HIV) and used Omron pedometers to measure daily step counts over 12 weeks. The 20-item HIV Symptom Index was administered at baseline and week 12. Increased PA was not associated with improvement in overall HIV symptom burden. However, bothersome symptoms were reduced, and total symptom burden was highly correlated with PA level at week 12 (r = -.48, p = .01), such that participants with  higher step counts reported lower symptom burden. Significant gender differences in symptom burden were noted: males on average reported lower symptom burden. Further research is needed to examine associations between PA and HIV symptom burden and to further explore gender differences in HIV symptom burden to improve overall quality of life for all older PLWH.

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