A University of Mississippi study is drawing attention to migraine in HIV patients. The study, first published online in November, points out that chronic migraine is a chronic problem for those with HIV.
200 HIV / AIDS patients were a part of the study. 53.5% reported headache symptoms. 14.56% met the criteria for episodic or chronic tension-type headache. And a whopping 44% were diagnosed with migraine – with 27.5% meeting the criteria for chronic migraine.
27.5% with chronic migraine is very significant. In fact, it means that those with HIV/AIDS are 13 times more likely to have chronic migraine than the general population.
And that’s not all. The more severe the HIV disease, the worse and more frequent the migraine attacks became. However, duration of the disease and number of prescribed antiretroviral medications did not make a significant difference.
This study certainly highlights the need to study the relationship between HIV and migraine, but it also helps to zero in on treatment of symptoms for HIV patients. Often, because of the HIV disease, other issues are suspected when the patient has headache pain. But now we know that tension-type headache and migraine are extremely common. Hopefully this will help patients get the proper treatment sooner.
The researchers also had an interesting side note. More often than usual, patients with HIV/AIDS had migraine attacks with some atypical features- for example, a two-sided migraine, or migraine with a pressing/tightening quality. The researchers still felt comfortable diagnosing these as migraine based on other criteria. But some doctors might miss a connection due to somewhat abnormal symptoms.