African Journal of AIDS Research

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Health-related quality of life in a sample of HIV-infected South Africans

Karl Peltzer, Nancy Phaswana-Mafuya


The study aims to assess the health-related quality of life and HIV symptoms of a sample of people living with HIV (PLHIV) in South Africa. The sample included 607 PLHIV from all districts of the Eastern Cape Province, recruited either through a health facility, from the community through key informants, or through support groups. At the time of the study, 66% of the respondents reported having been given an AIDS diagnosis (advanced stage of HIV disease), 48% were on antiretroviral therapy (ART), and 35% were receiving a disability grant. The findings indicate a low degree of overall quality of life, with a mean score of 13.4 on the WHOQOL-HIV measure. Among the WHOQOLHIV BREF subscales, logistic regression identified spirituality, environment, psychological health, and level of independence as predictors for overall quality of life. Among medical variables and HIV symptoms, CD4 cell count and having fewer HIV symptoms but not an AIDS diagnosis were identified as predictors for overall quality of life; among socio-economic variables, having sufficient food and a higher educational level were identified as predictors. The results highlight the need for better access to psychosocial support and medical services for PLHIV in South Africa, as well as the need to consider a patient's general health perceptions during the course of ART.

Keywords: antiretroviral treatment; assessment methods; HIV symptoms; people living with HIV/AIDS; psychosocial aspects; self-reporting; socio-economic factors; statistical analysis; questionnaires

African Journal of AIDS Research 2008, 7(2): 209–218
AJOL African Journals Online