Evers S, Wibbeke B, Reichelt D, Suhr B, Brilla R, Husstedt I  Pain  2000 03, 85: 1-2, 191-200


Headache is one of the most important factors influencing the quality of life in patients infected with the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV). However, only symptomatic headache but not changes or primary headache types during HIV infection have been studied to date. Therefore, we aimed to determine the impact of an HIV infection on frequency and semiology of different primary headache types. Patients with confirmed HIV type 1 infection underwent a neurological examination, neuroimaging or EEG, and a standardized interview. Time pattern and symptoms of headaches (cross-sectional analysis), changes of headaches preexisting to their infection (longitudinal retrospective analysis), and changes of primary headaches during a 2-year follow-up (longitudinal prospective analysis) were evaluated as were the correlations between these headache patterns and different markers of HIV infection. One hundred thirty-one consecutive HIV-infected patients without evidence of a cerebral manifestation except mild encephalopathy were enrolled. The point prevalence of migraine was 16.0% (confidence interval (CI) 10.1-25.4%), of headache with a semiology of tension-type headache 45.8% (CI 33.7-62.2%), and of other headache types 6.1% (CI 3.0-12.5%). During the natural course of infection, the migraine frequency significantly decreased in the retrospective and in the prospective analyses, whereas the frequency of the headache with a semiology of tension-type headache significantly increased in all three analyses. In 20% of all patients, the tension-type headache could be considered as symptomatic due to the infection but not due to focal or general cerebral lesions. Changes of primary headache were significantly associated with different stages of the infection and with the presence of mild encephalopathy but not with antiretroviral treatment or CD4 cell count. HIV infection seems to be associated with a progressive decrease in migraine frequency and intensity which probably is related to the immunological state of the patients. Tension-type headache becomes more frequent during HIV infection. However, this can in part be related to secondary headache caused by the HIV in less than 50% of patients with tension-type headache. The progressing immunological deficiency of HIV-infected patients seems to influence pain processing of primary headache types in different ways.

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