South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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The metabolic profiles of HIV-infected and non-infected women in Mangaung, South Africa

Z Hattingh, C Walsh, FJ Veldman, CJ Bester


Objective: To determine the biochemical nutritional status of HIV-infected women in Mangaung.
Design: Cross-sectional.
Setting: The community of Mangaung, Free State, South Africa.
Subjects: A representative group of 500 black women (25–44 years) was selected randomly to participate.
Outcome measures: Biochemical analyses were performed for total  lymphocytes, serum protein, serum albumin, plasma fibrinogen, serum insulin, serum glucose, serum triglycerides and serum cholesterol using standard methodology. Values were compared to standard references, and between HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected women.
Results: After screening for eligibility, 488 women qualified. Sixty-one per cent of the younger women (25–34 years) and 38% of the older women (35–44 years) were HIV-infected. HIV-infected women had significantly lower median blood values for total lymphocytes (p = 0.0001 and p = 0.02 for younger and older group respectively) and serum albumin (p = 0.0001 for both age groups), but significantly higher median concentrations of serum protein (p = 0.0001 for both age groups) than uninfected women. Plasma fibrinogen and serum insulin concentrations were significantly lower in HIV-infected younger women than in their uninfected counterparts (p = 0.002 for both parameters). Older HIV-infected women had significantly lower total serum cholesterol values (p = 0.01) than older HIV-uninfected women. Serum glucose and serum triglycerides did not differ significantly between HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected women.
Conclusions: The results indicate a possible impact of HIV infection on serum protein and serum albumin, which may adversely affect biochemical nutritional status and the course of HIV progression. Future research into the causes and possible treatment of metabolic changes in women in this community should be prioritised.
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