Changes in body composition and other anthropometric measures of female subjects on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART): A pilot study in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

  • F Esposito
  • A Coutsoudis
  • J Visser
  • G Kindra


Background and objectives. An understanding of the effect of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) on various aspects of health, including nutritional status, is needed to ensure that population-specific guidelines can be developed for South Africa. This study aimed to investigate the changes in body composition and other anthropometric measures that occur in HIV-infected women after the initiation of HAART and to explore the relationship between these measures and CD4 lymphocyte count. Design and setting. A longitudinal study was carried out at the Umkhumbane Community Health Centre, KwaZulu-Natal. Subjects. 30 HIV-infected adult women who started HAART between March 2007 and October 2007. Methods. Anthropometric measurements and bioelectrical impedance analysis were performed at baseline and 24 weeks after commencing HAART. CD4 lymphocyte counts were done at baseline and at the 24-week visit. Results. There was a statistically significant increase in all anthropometric measures except waist-hip ratio and lean body mass. The mean weight change (± standard deviation) was 3.4±5.8 kg (p=0.006). Mean body mass index (BMI) (kg/m2) increased from 25.6±5.7 to 27.3±5.6 (p=0.007). Seventy per cent of subjects gained weight, 18.5% had a stable weight and 11.1% lost weight. Subjects with lower CD4 lymphocyte counts experienced greater increases in weight, BMI, fat mass and body fat percentage. No significant association was found between anthropometric changes and change in CD4 count between baseline and the 24-week visit. Conclusions. The findings demonstrate the value of including circumference measurements and body composition techniques as part of nutritional status assessment. Research is needed to determine the best methods of bringing about favourable anthropometric changes to enhance the health of patients on HAART.

Southern African Journal of HIV Medicine Vol. 9 (4) 2008: pp. 36-42

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eISSN: 2078-6751
print ISSN: 1608-9693