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Low bone mineral density in HIV-positive young Italians and migrants

Antonio Cascio 1Claudia Colomba 1Paola Di Carlo 1Nicola Serra 2Giuseppe Lo Re 3Angelo Gambino 3Antonio Lo Casto 4Giuseppe Guglielmi 5 6Nicola Veronese 7Roberto Lagalla 3Consolato Sergi 8 9

PLoS One doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0237984. eCollection 2020.


Background: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infected individuals may have osteoporosis. We aimed to evaluate the bone mineral density (BMD) in naïve antiretroviral (ARV) treated HIV positive patients comparing native Italian group (ItG) to a Migrants group (MiG) upon arrival in Italy.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study on 83 HIV patients less than 50 years old. We used the dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) within six months from the HIV diagnosis. Participants were categorized as having low BMD if the femoral neck or total lumbar spine Z-score was- 2 or less.

Results: MiG showed low BMD more often than ItG (37.5% vs.13.6%), especially for the female gender (16.7% vs. 0.0%). A low CD4 rate (<200 cells/μl) was most often detected in MiG than ItG. In particular, we found most often male Italians with abnormal CD4 than male migrants (67.8% vs. 33.3%) and vice versa for females (30.5% vs. 66.7%). We found an abnormal bone mineral density at the lumbar site. Low BMD at the lumbar site was more frequently observed in female migrants than female Italians. Both male and female migrants had a Z-score value significantly lower than male and female Italians, respectively. By logistic regression low vitamin-D level was positively correlated to low BMD in ItG only. All data were verified and validated using a triple code identifier.

Conclusions: Both DXA and vitamin-D evaluation should be offered after the diagnosis of HIV infection. Lumbar site low BMD is an initial condition of bone loss in HIV young patients, especially in female migrants. Vitamin D levels and supplementation may be considered after HIV diagnosis independently of age to improve bone health.

Highlights: This study evaluates the frequency of bone mineral density in HIV positive patients naive to antiretroviral therapy. It compares the density of the native Italian population with that of HIV Migrants upon arrival in Italy. The results show that HIV positive migrants, even if younger than 50 years of age, are at risk for osteoporosis, especially if they are female.