Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection could potentially play an important role in the management of fractures as they have been shown to affect fracture healing and the post-operative risk of implant sepsis.
A systematic review of the relevant literature was performed on PubMed and Scopus databases. Twenty-six studies were identified, critiqued and analysed accordingly. No randomised controlled trials were identified.
HIV positivity was not shown to influence an individual’s risk of early wound infection in operatively managed closed fractures. The rate of pin track infection in open injuries managed with external fixators was low. However, in open injuries managed with internal fixation, early wound infection rates were increased in the HIV-positive population compared to HIV-negative individuals. Regarding late implant infection, in closed fractures there appeared to be no increased risk of infection but there is limited evidence for open injuries. Additionally, further evidence is needed to establish if the rate of union in both open and closed fractures are influenced by HIV status.
Overall, no evidence was found to suggest that surgical management of fractures in the HIV population should be avoided, and fixation of closed fractures in the HIV population appeared to be safe. The effect of anti-retroviral therapy is unclear and this should be further researched. However, based on the limited evidence, caution should be taken in the management of open fractures due to the potentially increased infection risk. The impact of anti-retroviral therapy on the outcomes of surgery needs further evaluation.