Physical activity and HIV

Soula Fillipas (physiotherapist and PhD candidate) designed this project to understand how much physical activity Australians living with HIV are currently undertaking and what potential health benefits may be associated with increased levels of physical activity in this population. Soula has recently completed her PhD (co-supervised by Kate Cherry) based on this project and is now continuing to work with the data generated in this work.

Soula has completed a prevalence study, finding that at least one in four patients attending Alfred Hospital clinics for HIV care are doing less physical activity than is recommended in international guidelines.

On reviewing the published literature, Soula has found that the effects of physical activity on important health outcomes for people living with HIV in the era of effective HIV treatments (outcomes such as body shape, cholesterol levels and bone health) have not been adequately studied. This makes it impossible to provide truly evidence-based physical activity recommendations for our patients.

Eighty Melbourne patients took part in a longitudinal study examining physical activity levels and fitness, cholesterol levels, body shape and more.

Analyses of the data obtained are ongoing at this time, but findings to date include:

  • Most patients undertake pretty stable levels of physical activity over time
  • Those who do more physical activity have improved fitness, as anticipated
  • Greater levels of physical activity are associated with improved quality of life and also better body composition (some measures only)
  • Adverse body composition (that can be associated with long term exposure to HIV treatments) is assoiciated with MRI changes at the knee that are predictive of knee arthritis in healthy populations.

Health Issue

Contact Details

For any general enquiries relating to this project, please contact:

Associate Professor Catherine (Kate) Cherry

Burnet Staff Physician and Clinical Epidemiologist