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Keywords:

  • highly active antiretroviral therapy;
  • HIV wasting syndrome;
  • HIV/AIDS;
  • taste perception;
  • taste threshold

Background

Alteration in gustatory function among patients with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is sparsely studied and provides contradictory findings. The objectives of the study were to evaluate taste perversion in HIV-infected subjects and compare taste acuity between patients with and without Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).

Materials and Methods

Fifty HIV-infected subjects aged 25–55 years were selected and divided into two subgroups: patients with HAART and patients without HAART. Control group included 50 healthy, age-, sex-, gender-, and socioeconomic status-matched individuals. Taste complaints were recorded on a structured questionnaire, and formal taste testing was carried out with triadic forced choice whole-mouth, above-threshold taste test for four tastants – sweet, salt, sour, and bitter. Taste identification, detection threshold, and intensity of tastant were recorded.

Results

Twenty-four (48%) among study group complained of taste perversion when compared to none among the control group (P < 0.001). During taste testing, identification and intensity scores were lower, while detection threshold scores for four tastants were higher in study group than in control group (P < 0.05). Among those patients with taste complaints, 16 were with HAART, while eight were without HAART (P = 0.043). Formal taste testing revealed greater taste perversion for sour and bitter tastants among patients with HAART medication.

Conclusion

The results document significant taste losses in HIV-infected subjects, and HAART contributes considerably to such taste perversion.