ASPPH logo


Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Brown: Increased Physical Activity Results in Lower Total Burden in Older Persons Living with HIV

A study conducted by researchers at the Brown University School of Public Health found that increases in physical activity were not associated with improvements in overall symptom burden in older people who live with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The study was published in AIDS Care and was led by Dr. Patricia A. Cioe, an assistant professor of behavioral and social sciences at the Brown School of Public Health.  Some of the symptoms that affect older people who live with HIV include fatigue, weight change, sleep problems, depression, muscle pain, and memory loss.

Forty participants were enrolled in a twelve-week study in two sites in the northeast United States between August 2016 and January 2017. Participants were over the age of 30, living with HIV for more than a year, stable on antiretroviral therapy and had an undetected viral load. Participants were issued a digital pedometer at baseline and were encouraged to get 150 minutes of physical activity per week. Assessments were collected at baseline, four weeks, eight weeks and at the end of the study (12 weeks). HIV symptom burden was measured using the 20-item HIV Symptom Index questionnaire.  

The investigators found that over the 12-week period, physical activity did not improve overall symptom burden scores. However, the total number of bothersome symptoms did decrease, and total symptom burden was highly correlated with activity levels at week 12, such that those reporting higher step counts reported lower symptom burden. There were also significant differences by gender, with males reporting lower symptom burden than females. The authors suggest that further studies need to be conducted to identify behavioral interventions that may be able to reduce burden in all people living with HIV.