Background: The disease burden associated with HIV/AIDS is a key factor in the etiopathogenesis of undernutrition in growing children. This is aggravated by resultant social factors in HIV such as orphaning, low socioeconomic status, food insecurity, and marital status of caregivers.
Objectives: The relationship between sociodemographic factors and malnutrition in the background of HIV was evaluated.
Methods: A cross-sectional descriptive survey was conducted among under-five HIV positive children in Anambra State, Nigeria.
Results: A total of 370 HIV positive under-five children comprising 208(56.2%) males and 162(43.8%) females were recruited. The mean age of the children was 44.5±12.9 months. One hundred and forty-seven (39.7%) were globally undernourished: 15.7.0% (58) underweight (WFA <-2SD), 13.3% (49) wasted (WFH < -2SD), and 27.9% (103) stunted (HFA <-2SD). Males were significantly more stunted than females (p<0.001). 77% (285) were of low socioeconomic class (SEC), 47.3% (175) had advanced HIV disease, and 68.1% (252) had been on HAART for >12 months. 26% (96) were orphans, while 28.6% (106) were cared for by single parents. Being on HAART for >12 months was associated with less undernutrition, while advanced HIV disease seemed to enhance it. Children of low SEC were more likely to be undernourished. Not having been breastfed, introduction of complementary feeds at age 3mo or less, poor food variety and suboptimal feeding frequency increased susceptibility to undernutrition. Orphans were more wasted and stunted than underweight. Single parenthood predisposed to undernutrition.
Conclusions: HIV-infected children are vulnerable to malnutrition by virtue of the disease process, further compounded by interwoven social dilemma associated with HIV. It, therefore, behooves the health care provider to ensure a proactive growth monitoring and nutritional support, with prompt treatment of co-morbid debilitating infections. There is also a dire need for public health interventions targeted at single parents of low socioeconomic means.
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