The head and neck are the second most common locations for pain among HIV-positive individuals. Most studies were conducted among HIV patients at an advanced stage of the disease.
This was a cross-sectional study. Patients with HIV and CD4+ T lymphocyte counts >500 were included. Semi-structured interview, the Headache Impact Test (HIT-6), and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale were used.
Of the 119 cases included, 63% were men. The mean age was 35.5 ± 10.4 years. Among the patients, 103 (87%) had headaches, 53 (45%) had migraines, 50 (42%) had tension-type headaches, and 53 (45%) had substantial and severe impact of headaches. Eleven patients had headaches that started after they had been diagnosed with HIV. These patients had more migraines (72% vs 43%; P < 0.05), greater intensity (8 ± 2 vs 6 ± 2; P < 0.01), and impact (HIT-6: 60 ± 11 vs 51 ± 12; P = 0.02) of headaches compared to others HIV patients. There were no correlations between CD4 counts and the intensity, frequency, or impact of headaches.
HIV-positive patients had a high frequency of headaches, which had a great impact on patients’ lives. The pattern most often found was migraine. There was no correlation between CD4 counts and the severity of headaches.