Signs and Symptoms

For the majority, osteoporosis is asymptomatic and the first indication of its existence is development of a fragility fracture (a fracture resulting from trauma that is equivalent to or less than a fall from a standing position).1 Common sites of osteoporotic fracture include the spine, hip, forearm, and proximal humerus.2 

Females living with HIV have a higher prevalence of vertebral and wrist fractures per 100 people than non-HIV-infected women, but a similar prevalence of hip fractures. Among males, the fracture prevalence per 100 people is higher in HIV-infected than non-HIV-infected patients for vertebral, hip, and wrist fractures.3 

Figure 1. Site of fracture according to HIV status (male and female patients) 
(adapted from Triant et al 2008).3 

Reproduced with permission from the Endocrine Society

The main clinical presentations of osteoporosis are:

  • fragility/low-trauma fracture
  • pain
  • height loss due to vertebral fractures

Find out more about Diagnostic tools.



  1. National Osteoporosis Foundation. Clinician’s Guide to Prevention and Treatment of Osteoporosis. Accessed 26 May 2011.
  2. WHO Scientific Group on the Assessment of Osteoporosis at Primary Health Care Level. Summary Meeting Report, Brussels, Belgium, 5–7 May 2004. Accessed 21 February 2011.
  3. Triant VA, Brown TT, Lee H, Grinspoon SK. Fracture prevalence among human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected versus non-HIV-infected patients in a large US healthcare system. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008;93:3499–3504.