African Journal of
Medical and Health Sciences

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Med. Health Sci.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2384-5589
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJMHS
  • Start Year: 2017
  • Published Articles: 64

Nutritional Status of perinatally HIV‑infected children on antiretroviral therapy from a resource‑poor rural South African community

Antonio George Lentoor
  • Antonio George Lentoor
  • Department of Clinical Psychology, School of Medicine, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Ga Rankuwa, Pretoria, South Africa.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 01 January 2018
  •  Accepted: 01 May 2018
  •  Published: 30 June 2018


Objective: In Sub‑Saharan Africa, millions of children are suffering from HIV and coexisting child undernutrition. Despite efforts to curb the spread of HIV through the availability of treatment and various nutritional programmes, it has been argued that undernutrition remains highly prevalent in rural areas. The objective of this study was to describe the prevalence and psychosocial factors influencing the nutritional status in the sample of rural‑based HIV‑infected children on antiretroviral therapy.

Materials and Methods: Anthropometric and home environment data were collected from 152 perinatally HIV‑infected children on antiretroviral therapy who lived with their primary caregivers in a rural Eastern Cape community.

Results: More than half of the sample of children had inadequate nutritional status. The prevalence of stunting particularly was high (36.2%), while 12% were underweight and only 2.7% presented with wasting. Coexisting poor quality home‑environment (P < 0.01) added to this burden. Younger age children who lived with a younger biological caregiver were found to present more with stunting than older age children (ꭙ2 [n = 152] = 14.79, P = 0.005), but no significant differences were observed for underweight or wasting.

Conclusion: It is important in a context such as South Africa, with the double burden of HIV infection and poverty, that all efforts be directed at alleviating undernutrition. Early pediatric HIV management should not only focus on the provision of treatment but should also prioritize the quality of care of HIV‑positive children in the home to improve on their nutritional health.

Key words: HIV/AIDS, nutritional status, pediatrics, resource‑poor setting, stunting, underweight, wasting.