Identifying HIV‑associated Wasting
Evaluating your HIV‑positive patients for HIV‑associated wasting
Are your patients experiencing symptoms of HIV‑associated wasting?
Patients living with HIV may experience episodes of unintentional weight loss, loss of LBM, and decreased physical endurance. Looking beyond unintentional weight loss and identifying other symptoms can be an important factor in determining if they are experiencing HIV‑associated wasting. This is why it’s important to talk about any symptoms they may be experiencing at every appointment.
A holistic approach to determine if your patients are experiencing symptoms of HIV‑associated wasting includes initiating open-ended discussions about LBM, body weight, and physical endurance.
The following steps can help you decide if further intervention and treatment may be right for your patient.
Initiate a conversation at every appointment
Proactively speak to patients about potential HIV‑associated wasting symptoms.
Consider asking your patients:
- Have you had unintentional weight loss?
- Have you recently lost weight without trying?
- Does your unintentional weight loss affect your health?
- Do your clothes fit more loosely due to unintentional weight loss?
- Have friends, family, or coworkers noticed any changes in your weight?
- Do you have a loss of energy, along with unintentional weight loss?
- Do you frequently feel tired?
- Are you exercising less?
- Do you need to rest more often?
- Is it more difficult to complete some of your activities?
Asking these questions at every appointment may aid with early identification of HIV‑associated wasting.
Examine the patient and review medical history
Measuring weight, reviewing your patient’s weight history (including a premorbid or prediagnosis weight, as well as changes in weight over time), calculating body mass index (BMI), and evaluating LBM can help you uncover physical changes that may suggest HIV‑associated wasting.
Clinically manage your patients
Clinically managing patients to assess for HIV‑related comorbidities, such as HIV‑associated wasting, can add a layer of complexity for healthcare providers (HCPs), especially during telemedicine visits.
Some methods you may consider when screening patients for changes in weight, in person or virtually, include:
- Weighing them during in-office visits, or asking them to keep a record of their weight and self-report it during visits by:
- Keeping a scale at home
- Weighing themselves at their local pharmacy, at an AIDS service organization, during their routine lab visits, or wherever a scale is available
- Inquiring about whether their clothing fits differently
- Looking for changes in physical appearance and asking about involuntary changes in body habits and decreasing physical endurance
HIV‑associated Wasting Conversation Starter
Use this helpful resource to support conversations with your HIV‑positive patients about their symptoms and HIV‑associated wasting