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
They screened 339 patients with HIV using magnetic resonance
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
"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