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Puzzling Hip Condition May Cripple AIDS Patients


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A disabling disorder in which bone tissue from the hip bones is eaten away may be a new and unexpected complication of either HIV infection or the treatments used to fight it, doctors said on Friday. They found the condition, called osteonecrosis, affected about four percent of HIV patients they screened.

The researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), first noticed the condition in four of their patients. They then collected scattered reports from around the country.

They screened 339 patients with HIV using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

None had the hip pain usually associated with osteonecrosis, but 15 of the patients, or 4.4 percent, had the condition. Among 118 patients without HIV who were screened, none had osteonecrosis, the researchers told a meeting in New Orleans of the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

"Many of the lesions were large," Dr. Henry Masur of the NIH Clinical Center, said in a statement. "Our concern is that the lesions will lead to clinical symptoms ultimately requiring total hip replacements."

The researchers say they do not know what is causing the condition.

"We've been following patients with HIV at the NIH Clinical Center for more than 17 years and had not seen this complication until about a year ago," said Dr. Joseph Kovacs, who also worked on the study.

"Longer patient survival, new therapies or lifestyle influences may somehow contribute to the development of this disorder. It's important to find out why it's happening."

A few years ago, doctors and patients started noticing puzzling complications among HIV patients that were eventually linked to the drugs use to treat the infection. The disorders affect metabolism and result in odd distributions of fat and other problems.


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Information in this article was accurate in September 8, 2000. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.