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Low bone mineral density (BMD) and fragility fractures are common in individuals infected with HIV, who are undergoing antiretroviral therapy (ART). In high-income countries, dual energy X-ray absorptiometrry is typically used to evaluate osteopenia or osteoporosis in HIV infected individuals. However, this technology is unavailable in low and-middle income countries, so a different approach is needed. The aim of this study was to use X-ray scans of the spine to determine the prevalence of and associated risk factors for vertebral fractures in HIV-infected patients in a tertiary-care hospital in Mexico. We conducted a cross-sectional study of outpatients who were >40 years old and receiving ART at the Hospital de Infectología, La Raza National Medical Center in Mexico City, Mexico. We used semi-quantitative morphometric analysis of centrally digitized X-ray images to assess vertebral deformities in the spine. Anterior, middle and posterior vertebral heights were measured, and height ratios were calculated. For each vertebral body, fractures were graded on the basis of height ratio reductions, and a spine deformity index’ (SDI) value was calculated by summing the grades of the vertebral deformities: An SDI>1 was indicative of a vertebral fracture. We included 104 patients, 87% of whom were men. The median age was 49 years [interquartile range (IQR) 42-52]. Themost common stage of HIV infection, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control,was B2 in 40 (39%) of patients. Forty seven (45%) patients were on ART regimens that included protease inhibitors (PIs) and 100 (96%) being treated with tenofovir. The median time of ART was 6.5 years (IQR1.6-9.0). Of the 104 patients in our study, 83 (80%) had undetectable viral load, as assessed by HIV-1 RNA levels, 32 (31%) showed evidence of a previous fracture, 4 (4%) were co-infected with hepatitis C virus, and 57 (55%) had a history of corticosteroid treatment. The prevalence of vertebral fractures was 25%, 95% confidence interval 17-34%. We assessed whether gender, HCV co-infection, previous corticosteroid use, AIDS, total HIV viral load, and current and previous use of PIs were associated with fractures in our study group, but we did not observe a significant association between any of these factors and vertebral fractures. The prevalence of vertebral fractures was high among HIV-infected patients. We propose that screening for bone disease should be performed in HIV individuals who are at risk of fragility fractures. Furthermore, we suggest that X-ray based assessment of the spine should be considered in patients who are at increased risk of fragility fractures, irrespective of BMD levels, particularly in elderly patients in low and middle income countries.
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