Analysis scripts and supplementary files: Incidence of symptomatic and asymptomatic HIV-associated sensory neuropathy in tenofovir-exposed individuals
Objectives: HIV-associated sensory neuropathy (HIV-SN) is a common and often painful neurological condition associated with HIV-infection and its treatment. However, data on the incidence of HIV-SN in neuropathy-free individuals initiating combination antiretroviral therapies (cART) that do not contain the neurotoxic agent stavudine are lacking.
Design: We investigated the six-month incidence of HIV-SN in ART naïve individuals initiating tenofovir (TDF)-based cART, and the clinical factors associated with the development of HIV-SN.
Methods: 120 neuropathy-free and ART naïve individuals initiating cART at a single centre in Johannesburg, South Africa were enrolled. Participants were screened for HIV-SN at study enrolment and then approximately every two-months for a period of approximately six-months. Symptomatic HIV-SN was defined by the presence of at least one symptom (pain/burning, numbness, paraesthesias) and at least two clinical signs (reduced vibration sense, absent ankle reflexes or pin-prick hypoaesthesia). Asymptomatic HIV-SN required at least two clinical signs only.
Results: Approximately 80% of the cohort completed three or more visits with the six-mopnth period. Eleven individuals developed asymptomatic HIV-SN and nine developed symptomatic HIV-SN, giving a six-month cumulative incidence of neuropathy of 140 cases per 1000 patients (95% CI: 80 - 210) at an incidence rate of 0.37 (95% CI: 0.2 - 0.5) per person year. Increasing height and a current tuberculosis (TB) infection were independently associated with the risk of developing HIV-SN (p < 0.05).
Conclusions: We found that within the first six months of starting cART, incident SN persists in the post-stavudine era, but tends to be asymptomatic.