Peripheral Auditory Function in Tanzanian Children Living with HIV with Clinically Normal Hearing

Christopher E. Niemczak*, Christin Ealer, Abigail Fellows, Albert Magohe, Jiang Gui, Catherine Rieke, Trent Nicol, Enica R. Massawe, Nina Kraus, Jay C. Buckey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Importance: Despite normal audiometry, adults living with HIV have lower distortion product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAEs) compared with HIV-negative controls, but the degree of these differences in children living with HIV is unknown. If subclinical auditory deficits are present, results could affect developmental outcomes in children living with HIV (CLWH). Objective: To compare DPOAEs and auditory brainstem responses (ABR) between 2 age- and sex-matched groups of younger children with normal audiometry, 1 infected with HIV and the other uninfected. Design, Setting, and Participants: Cohort study in an infectious disease center in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Participants included 340 Tanzanian children aged 3 to 9 years with clinically normal hearing, type A tympanograms bilaterally, and air-conduction thresholds of 20 dB HL or less from 0.5 to 8 kHz. Participants in the cohort repeated testing approximately every 6 months (approximately 2.2 sessions per participant) for a total of 744 total observations. Data were analyzed from March 2020 to January 2022. Main Outcomes and Measures: DPOAE amplitudes from 1.5 to 8 kHz using an f2 to f1 ratio of 1.2 and L1/L2 values of 65/55 dB sound pressure level and click-evoked ABR using a slow (21.1/s) and fast (61.1/s) click rate. Results: A total of 141 CLWH (70 female participants [49.3%]; mean [SD] age, 7.24 [1.67] years) and 199 HIV-negative individuals (99 female participants [49.7%]; mean [SD] age, 7.26 [1.44] years) participated in the study. The groups did not differ significantly in age, static immittance, or air-conduction thresholds. HIV status was independently associated with approximately 1.4 dB (95% CI, -3.28 to 0.30 dB) to 3.8 dB (95% CI, 6.03 to -1.99 dB) lower DPOAE amplitudes at 6 and 8 kHz bilaterally and 0.28 μV (95% CI, 0.01 to 0.33 μV) lower ABR wave V amplitudes in the right ear. Conclusions and Relevance: Consistent with previous findings in young adults, CLWH had slightly, but reliably, lower DPOAEs and ABR wave V amplitudes than HIV-negative controls. The magnitude of these differences was small, but results suggest an early and consistent association between HIV infection or treatment and outer hair cell and auditory brainstem responses in children as young as 3 years. These subclinical changes suggest tracking both auditory function and development outcomes in CLWH is warranted..

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E233061
JournalJAMA network open
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 15 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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