Is there enough evidence to use bisphosphonates in HIV-infected patients? A systematic review and meta-analysis


An increased prevalence of osteopenia and osteoporosis has been observed in HIV-infected cohorts. We investigated the effect of bisphosphonates on bone mineral density in adults with HIV infection. Outcomes of interest were bone mineral density changes measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry at the lumbar spine, femoral neck, and total hip, and adverse events. Data were pooled using the fixed-effects model. We identified eight randomized controlled trials meeting our inclusion criteria, involving 328 participants. Five trials compared alendronate with placebo or no intervention; in three trials the intervention arm received zoledronate. A significant increase in bone mineral density at the lumbar spine was observed in the bisphosphonate group at 48 weeks (MD: 2.84%; 95% CI: 2.11-3.57) and 96 weeks (MD: 6.76%; 95% CI: 4.98-8.54); analogously, bisphosphonates were associated with an increase in total hip bone mineral density at 48 weeks (MD: 2.12%; 95% CI: 1.43-2.81) and 96 weeks (MD: 3.2%; 95% CI: 1.52-4.88). Bisphosphonates were generally well tolerated; no drug-related withdrawals were reported in the five randomized controlled trials assessing alendronate, whereas two patients out of 104 receiving zoledronate experienced acute-phase reactions. In conclusion, administration of oral and intravenous bisphosphonates was associated with increased bone mineral density at the lumbar spine and total hip over two years in HIV-positive patients. However, none of the included trials were long enough to detect the impact of bisphosphonates on a clinically important outcome such as fracture risk. Larger studies with extended follow-up are warranted.


Pinzone MR, Moreno S, Cacopardo B, Nunnari G.




  • Population(s)
    • General HIV+ population
    • Other
  • Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Treatment
  • Co-morbidities
    • Other


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