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Frailty and health-related quality of life among older people living with HIV pre- and post-COVID-19 pandemic onset: A cross-sectional study.

INTRODUCTION: Antiretroviral therapy increased the survival and life expectancy of People living With HIV (PWH). Frailty-related syndromes among older PWH (aged 50+ years) may affect their Health-related Quality of Life (HQoL). Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted health-related outcomes. This study aimed to estimate the prevalence of frailty and pre-frailty among older PWH, and to explore associations of HQoL with the study assessment period and frailty status.

METHODS: Cross-sectional study conducted pre- (23-Mar-2019 to 5-Mar-2020) and post-COVID-19 pandemic onset (23-Jun-2021 to 5-May-2022), among older PWH at INI-Fiocruz, the largest cohort of PWH in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. We measured frailty using Fried assessment, consisting of five domains: unintentional weight loss; self-reported exhaustion, weakness, slow walking speed, low physical activity. HQoL was assessed using the ACTG SF-21, which contains 21 questions divided into 8 domains. We used Chi-Square test, Fisher's exact test, Kruskal-Wallis and ranksum test for comparisons.

RESULTS: We included 250 older PWH: 109 (43.6 %) pre- and 141 (56.4 %) post-COVID-19 pandemic onset. Median age was 60-years (IQR: 55‒64). Most self-identified as cisgender men 152 (60.8 %), Pardo/Black 146 (58.4 %), with completed secondary education or less 181 (72.7 %) and low income 132 (52.8 %). Overall, prevalence of frailty and pre-frailty were 9.2 % (95 % CI: 8.1‒10.3) and 61.6 % (95 % CI: 54.0‒69.2). Prevalence of frailty in the post- and pre-COVID-19 pandemic periods were 10.6 % and 7.3 % (p = 0.66). HQoL scores were lower among participants with frailty compared to those with non-frailty and pre-frailty in all eight domains, and among those included in the post-COVID-19 compared to pre-COVID-19 period for four domains.

CONCLUSIONS: We observed low prevalence of frailty, but high prevalence of pre-frailty among older PWH. Frailty status did not differ according to the COVID-19 inclusion period. Assessment of frailty and HQoL should be incorporated in clinical practice for older PWH. Programs to reverse or prevent frailty should be implemented within the public health system.

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