Aetiology and management of malnutrition in HIV-positive children

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Abstract

Worldwide, more than 3 million children are infected with HIV and, without treatment, mortality among these children is extremely high. Both acute and chronic malnutrition are major problems for HIV-positive children living in resource-limited settings. Malnutrition on a background of HIV represents a separate clinical entity, with unique medical and social aetiological factors. Children with HIV have a higher daily calorie requirement than HIV-negative peers and also a higher requirement for micronutrients; furthermore, coinfection and chronic diarrhoea due to HIV enteropathy play a major role in HIV-associated malnutrition. Contributory factors include late presentation to medical services, unavailability of antiretroviral therapy, other issues surrounding healthcare provision and food insecurity in HIV-positive households. Treatment protocols for malnutrition have been greatly improved, yet there remains a discrepancy in mortality between HIV-positive and HIV-negative children. In this review, the aetiology, prevention and treatment of malnutrition in HIV-positive children are examined, with particular focus on resource-limited settings where this problem is most prevalent.

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