BackgroundObesity is a risk factor for osteoarthritis. Highly active antiretroviral therapy-treated HIV-infected patients are frequently affected by overweight and obesity, and may be at increased risk of osteoarthritis. BMI however is a measure which does not discriminate adipose from non-adipose body mass, or fat distribution, which may have different effects.ObjectiveThis study aimed to examine relationships between body composition and knee cartilage volume, as assessed by magnetic resonance imaging in HIV infection.Methods35 HAART-treated HIV-infected men aged 51.7 years (mean) 7.9 (SD) and 18 healthy men aged 49.5 years (mean) 6.4 (SD) participated. Cartilage volume was measured on magnetic resonance imaging of the dominant knee using validated methods. Body composition was measured using dual x-ray absorptiometry.ResultsHIV-infected participants had less total body and gynoid fat (kg) (p = 0.04 and p = 0.007, respectively) and more percent android fat mass and percent trunk fat mass (p = 0.001 and p < 0.001, respectively) than controls. In HIV-infected participants there was an inverse association between total body fat mass and average tibial cartilage volume (R = -8.01, 95% CI -15.66, -0.36). Also, in HIV-infected participants there was an inverse association between android fat mass and average cartilage volume (R = -90.91, 95% CI -158.66, -23.16).ConclusionsThis preliminary study found that both total body and android fat mass were inversely related to average knee cartilage volume in ambulant, highly active antiretroviral therapy-treated HIV-infected adults. These findings are features of early knee osteoarthritis and this may be of future significance in HIV.