Research

Pharmacological treatment of painful HIV-associated sensory neuropathy

Prinisha Pillay, Antonia L Wadley, Catherine L Cherry, Alan S Karstaedt, Peter R Kamerman

Abstract


Background. HIV-associated sensory neuropathy (HIV-SN) is a common and frequently painful complication of HIV infection and its treatment. However, few data exist describing the frequency, type and dosage of pain medications patients are receiving in the clinic setting to manage the painful symptoms of HIV-SN.

Objective. To report on analgesic prescription for painful HIV-SN and factors influencing that prescription in adults on combination antiretroviral therapy.

Methods. Using validated case ascertainment criteria to identify patients with painful HIV-SN, we recruited 130 HIV-positive patients with painful HIV-SN at Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa. Demographic and clinical data (including current analgesic use) were collected on direct questioning of the patients and review of the medical files.

Results. We found significant associations, of moderate effect size, between higher pain intensity and lower CD4 T-cell counts with prescription of analgesic therapy. Factors previously identified as predicting analgesic treatment in HIV-positive individuals (age, gender, level of education) were not associated with analgesic use here. Consistent with national guidelines, amitriptyline was the most commonly used agent, either alone or in combination therapy. Importantly, we also found that despite the relatively high analgesic treatment rate in this setting, the majority of patients described their current level of HIV-SN pain as moderate or severe.

Conclusion. Our findings highlight the urgent need for both better analgesic options for HIV-SN pain treatment and ongoing training and support of clinicians managing this common and debilitating condition. 



Authors' affiliations

Prinisha Pillay, Brain Function Research Group, School of Physiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Antonia L Wadley, Brain Function Research Group, School of Physiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

Catherine L Cherry, Brain Function Research Group, School of Physiology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; International Clinical Research Laboratory, Centre for Biomedical Research, Burnet Institute, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; Infectious Diseases Unit, Alfred Hospital and Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Alan S Karstaedt, Department of Medicine, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa

Peter R Kamerman, Department of Medicine, Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Keywords

HIV; Peripheral neuropathy; HIV-related pain; Amitriptyline

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2015;105(9):769-772. DOI:10.7196/SAMJnew.7908

Article History

Date submitted: 2014-10-29
Date published: 2015-09-14

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