Objectives: This study aimed to describe the prevalence and nature of auditory and
otological manifestations in adults with HIV/AIDS through clinical examinations and selfreported
symptoms across stages of disease progression.
Design: Descriptive, cross-sectional group design.
Study Sample: Two hundred HIV positive adult patients attending the Infectious Disease
Clinic of a tertiary referral hospital in Pretoria, South Africa were included through
convenience sampling. Patients were interviewed, medical files were reviewed and clinical
examinations, including otoscopy, tympanometry, pure tone audiometry and distortion
product oto-acoustic emissions, were conducted. An age, gender, working-environment and
race-matched control group were compiled and hearing loss prevalence were compared.
Results: Tinnitus (26%), vertigo (25%) hearing loss (27.5%), otalgia (19%) and ear canal
pruritis (38%) were prevalent self-reported symptoms. Abnormalities in otoscopy,
tympanometry and otoacoustic emissions were evident in 55, 41 and 44% of patients
respectively. Pure tone average (PTA) hearing loss >25 dBHL was evident in 14% of patients
and 39% for hearing loss >15 dBHL (PTA). An increase in self reported vertigo, self reported
hearing loss, OAE abnormalities and hearing loss (PTA>15dBHL and PTA>25dBHL) was
seen with disease progression but was not statistically significant. A significant increase
(p<.05) in sensorineural hearing loss was evident with disease progression. Significant
differences were found between the average thresholds in the test and control group
throughout the frequency spectrum.
Conclusions: Auditory and otological symptoms are common in patients with HIV with a
general increase of symptoms, especially sensorineural hearing loss, towards advanced
stages of disease progression.