To obtain data on prevalence and severity of climacteric symptoms in women with HIV (WWH) during the menopausal transition and early menopause and to evaluate for any differences in symptoms by CD4 count and viral load.
We conducted an in-person survey of female patients attending the Johns Hopkins HIV clinic, ages 40 to 50 years with at least one menstrual period within 6 months before the survey. Interviews utilized the Greene Climacteric scale, a validated menopause questionnaire. We also queried patients, (1) if they were informing their primary care physician of menopause symptoms and (2) if their menopause symptoms were being treated. The study used nonparametric Mann-Whitney rank sum tests with significance defined as P < 0.05 to perform symptom severity comparisons of distributions and Fischer exact tests for comparisons of categorical variables such as comparing prevalence of anxiety and depression in the population.
Twenty-three women aged 40 to 50 years were interviewed with a median age of 47 years [25 percentile = 46, 75 percentile = 49]. All were African American with median length of HIV diagnosis of 12 years [25 percentile = 7, 75 percentile = 20.5]. Most of the patients, 87% (n = 20), reported experiencing at least one menopause symptom with intense frequency and extreme detrimental effects on quality of life. All women interviewed, 100% (n = 23), reported hot flashes, ranging from infrequent to persistent. Sleeping difficulty was reported by 78% (n = 18) of women. Most women, 78% (n = 18), reported feeling tired or lacking energy with moderate frequency. The majority of the women, 87% (n = 20), said they reported menopause symptoms to their primary care provider. Of these, only 20% received treatment for menopause symptoms.
These findings suggest that WWH undergoing the menopausal transition experience intense symptoms severely impacting quality of life. Although the majority of women reported experiencing menopause symptoms to medical providers, most remained untreated. An opportunity exists to educate providers caring for WWH on menopause medicine.