Effect of Antiretroviral Therapy on Growth Parameters of Children With HIV Infection

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Background:Children living with HIV (CLHIV) commonly experience growth failure. We report growth parameters in CLHIV at baseline and during 3 years of antiretroviral therapy (ART).Methods:Records of CLHIV who had completed at least 3 years on ART were reviewed after excluding subjects who died, were lost to follow-up or developed treatment failure to assess impact of sustained administration of ART. Height-for-age (HFA) and body mass index for age (BFA) Z scores were calculated, and proportion of CLHIV with wasting and stunting estimated at baseline, 6, 12, 24 and 36 months after starting ART using the linear mixed model. Factors influencing significant changes in growth parameters were assessed.Results:HFA Z score improved steadily from −3.12 at baseline to −2.33 at 36 months of ART. The prevalence of stunting declined from 77.7% to 59.2% during this period. BFA Z scores improved from −1.2 at baseline to −0.4 at12 months on ART but declined to −1.0 at 36 months. The proportion of subjects with wasting was 29.3%, 9.7% and 16.7% at baseline, 12 and 36 months, respectively. Baseline clinical stage (1 + 2), absence of wasting and lower HFA Z score had significant positive influence on changes in HFA Z score, while younger age at ART initiation and a low baseline BFA Z score had a positive influence on catch-up in body mass index. Including data of children who died or developed treatment failure did not impact upon the results.Conclusion:Majority of CLHIV are stunted at the start of ART. ART was only partially effective in countering malnutrition and growth failure in CLHIV.

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