Body shape and composition in HIV-infected women: An urban cohort

S. L. Karmon, R. D. Moore, A. S. Dobs, J. Keruly, S. Barnett, Joseph Cofrancesco

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objectives: Alterations in body shape and composition are associated with HIV/AIDS. Wasting remains prevalent; increasingly, lipodystrophy is reported. Obesity is also epidemic in the USA. In this study, we sought to characterize the body changes reported by women attending a US urban clinic, and to evaluate contributing factors using inexpensive methods that are readily available in clinical practice. Methods: In an urban Maryland clinic, a cross-section of HIV-infected women were evaluated by self report, anthropomorphic measurements, bioelectric impedance analysis (BIA) and chart review; they were categorized as no change, lipodystrophy, weight loss/wasting or weight gain/obesity. Results: One hundred and sixty-one women were evaluated: 144 (89%) were African-American; 100 (62%) had used intravenous drugs and 40 (25%) were actively injecting drugs, while 39 (24%) smoked crack. Ninety-five (59%) were on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) for a median period of 11.7 months [interquartile range (IQR) = 4.5-24.2]. Since starting current HAART or in the previous year, 12 (7.4%) reported lipodystrophy changes, 85 (52.8%) weight gain, 27 (16.8%) overall weight loss, and 37 (23.0%) no change. Lipodystrophy was associated with higher CD4 percentage (P=0.03), lower frequency of crack use (P=0.04) and higher educational level (P=0.03). Weight loss correlated with longer duration of infection (P=0.01), select BIA results and increased rate of crack use (P=0.005). Weight gain was associated with higher fat mass (P=0.005), higher peak viral load (P=0.02), and lower rate of intravenous drug use (P=0.03). Conclusions: Self-reported changes in body shape were common. Obesity and complications of illicit drug use were more prevalent than lipodystrophy in this inner-city population of HIV-positive women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)245-252
Number of pages8
JournalHIV Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2005


  • AIDS
  • Body composition
  • HIV
  • Lipodystrophy
  • Obesity
  • Wasting
  • Women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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