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HIV infection is an independent risk factor for decreased 6-minute walk test distance



Ambulatory function predicts morbidity and mortality and may be influenced by cardiopulmonary dysfunction. Persons living with HIV (PLWH) suffer from a high prevalence of cardiac and pulmonary comorbidities that may contribute to higher risk of ambulatory dysfunction as measured by 6-minute walk test distance (6-MWD). We investigated the effect of HIV on 6-MWD.


PLWH and HIV-uninfected individuals were enrolled from 2 clinical centers and completed a 6-MWD, spirometry, diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide (DLCO) and St. George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ). Results of 6-MWD were compared between PLWH and uninfected individuals after adjusting for confounders. Multivariable linear regression analysis was used to determine predictors of 6-MWD.


Mean 6-MWD in PLWH was 431 meters versus 462 in 130 HIV-uninfected individuals (p = 0.0001). Older age, lower forced expiratory volume (FEV1)% or lower forced vital capacity (FVC)%, and smoking were significant predictors of decreased 6-MWD in PLWH, but not HIV-uninfected individuals. Lower DLCO% and higher SGRQ were associated with lower 6-MWD in both groups. In a combined model, HIV status remained an independent predictor of decreased 6-MWD (Mean difference = -19.9 meters, p = 0.005).


HIV infection was associated with decreased ambulatory function. Airflow limitation and impaired diffusion capacity can partially explain this effect. Subjective assessments of respiratory symptoms may identify individuals at risk for impaired physical function who may benefit from early intervention.

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