HIV and Osteoporosis
November 17, 2016
What Is Osteoporosis?
The human body is made up of more than 200 bones, from the skull to the bones of the toes. We depend on bones to hold us up, help us move, and protect our internal organs, such as the heart, kidneys, and liver. Osteoporosis is a disease that causes bones to become weak and easy to break. Osteoporosis increases the risk of fractures of the hip, spine, and wrist.
The risk of osteoporosis increases with age. Anyone can get osteoporosis, but it's most common in older women.
Are People With HIV at Risk of Osteoporosis?
Yes. Experts are not sure why, but bone loss occurs faster in people living with HIV than in people without HIV. Factors that increase the rate of bone loss in people with HIV may include:
Staying healthy with HIV includes taking steps to prevent osteoporosis.
What Are Other Risk Factors for Osteoporosis?
There are many risk factors for osteoporosis. Some risk factors, such as HIV infection, can't be changed. Other risk factors, for example a poor diet or lack of exercise, can be managed with lifestyle choices.
Risk factors for osteoporosis that can't be changed include:
The following risk factors for osteoporosis can be controlled by lifestyle choices:
How Does Osteoporosis Develop?
To maintain healthy bones, our body constantly replaces old bone tissue with new bone tissue. Up to about age 20, bone tissue is replaced faster than it is lost. But beyond age 20, the reverse can happen: more bone can be broken down than is replaced.
Osteoporosis develops when bone loss is so great that bones can break easily.
There is no cure for osteoporosis. However, once the disease develops, there are medicines that can slow down bone loss or increase bone formation.
What Are the Symptoms of Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is often called a silent disease because bone loss occurs without symptoms. The first sign of osteoporosis is often a broken bone.
A bone density test is used to measure bone strength and diagnose osteoporosis. The test takes about 10 minutes and is safe, painless, and requires no preparation. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends all women above the age of 65 have a bone density test to screen for osteoporosis. Women who are younger than 65 and are at high risk for fractures should also have a bone density test. There are currently no recommendations for routine screening for osteoporosis in people living with HIV, but individuals infected with HIV may wish to discuss bone density testing with their health care providers.
What Are Steps to Take to Prevent Osteoporosis?
Preventing osteoporosis means making lifestyle choices to reduce the risk of the disease.
This fact sheet is based on information from the following sources:
This article was provided by AIDSinfo. Visit the AIDSinfo website to find out more about their activities and publications.