Original Research

An audiological profile of a cohort of school-aged children with HIV and AIDS attending an antiretroviral clinic in South Africa

Vuyelwa Z. Peter, Jessica Paken, Lavanithum Joseph
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 67, No 1 | a651 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v67i1.651 | © 2020 Vuyelwa Zandile Peter, Jessica Paken, Lavanithum Joseph | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 26 July 2019 | Published: 20 April 2020

About the author(s)

Vuyelwa Z. Peter, Discipline of Audiology, School of Health Sciences, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Jessica Paken, Discipline of Audiology, School of Health Sciences, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Lavanithum Joseph, Discipline of Audiology, School of Health Sciences, College of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: Recent estimates reveal that there are approximately 280 000 children between the ages of birth and 14 years who are living with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) in South Africa. These children are living with a compromised immune system, are vulnerable to opportunistic infections and subsequent hearing loss. However, there is limited research on the nature and extent of this sensory impairment amongst school-aged children.

Objective: This study aimed to determine an audiological profile of a cohort of school-aged children attending an antiretroviral (ARV) clinic, describing the occurrence of hearing loss and nature in terms of degree, type, configuration and symmetry.

Methods: A non-experimental descriptive exploratory study was conducted, where 30 children aged between 6 and 12 years underwent diagnostic audiological assessments. Audiological procedures included case history, medical record review, otoscopic examination, immittance audiometry, pure-tone audiometry, speech audiometry, distortion product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAEs) and neurological auditory brainstem response (ABR) testing. The results were analysed descriptively using SPSS version 22 software.

Results: The results indicated abnormal otoscopic findings in half the participants, and consequently type C tympanograms were the most common. Of the 28 participants who could be assessed with pure-tone audiometry, 15 (54%) showed a hearing loss. A bilateral rising mild, conductive hearing loss was predominant. Thirteen (43%) of the participants could not be tested using DPOAE because of outer and middle-ear pathology. Neurological ABR testing revealed an abnormality in 18 (60%) of the participants suggesting the sensitivity of the ABR to detect subtle neurological changes.

Conclusion: Half the children in this study showed hearing loss, which has serious implications for the holistic management of the children within the health and educational contexts. Therefore, there is a need for audiological monitoring of children with HIV and AIDS.


Keywords

audiological profile; HIV; AIDS; hearing loss; school children.

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