Trop Med Int Health. 2023 Jan 8. doi: 10.1111/tmi.13852. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVES: To determine the prevalence of malnutrition status, analyze the association between malnutrition status and individual-level factors, and explore the spatial variation among children and adolescents living with HIV/AIDS in Tanzania.
METHODS: The study is based on large-scale baseline routine data from the National AIDS Control Programme on people living with HIV from January 2016 to December 2021 in mainland Tanzania. 70,102 children and adolescents aged 5 to 19 years receiving active antiretroviral therapy were included in the analysis. Nutritional status of participants was assessed by anthropometric measurement. Pearson’s Chi-square test was used to describe the association between individual-level factors with all malnutrition outcomes and spatial analysis was used to investigate spatial distribution of malnutrition. The excess risk of malnutrition for each region was calculated while Anselin Local Moran’s I and Getis-Ord statistical tools were used to identify significant hot spots regions of malnutrition.
RESULTS: The mean age of participants was 11.1 (SD 4.7) years, with 71.7% in the 5 to 14-year age group and 58.4% being girls. 39.2% were attending care and treatment clinics services at hospital level with public ownership. 53.4% started using ARV at age 5-14 years and 55.5% had already switched to second- or third-line ARV with 61.1% using ARV for less than 3 years. 51.2% were in WHO HIV clinical stage III or IV. The prevalence of malnutrition was 36.0% for stunting, 28.9% for underweight, 13.0% for wasting, and 48.0% for anthropometric failure. Individual-level factors which accounted for a higher proportion of malnutrition based on anthropometric failure were male sex (56.3%), age 5-14 years (50.0%), being unmarried (52.9%), being on second- or third-line ARV treatment (51.4%), ART initiation at age 5-14 years (55.7%), ARV for more than 3 years (49.4%), and stage IV of WHO HIV clinical status (57.8%). There were regional hot spots (P< 0.05): the prevalence rate and excess risk of malnutrition for stunting and anthropometric failure were highest in the southern highlands regions, for underweight in the central regions, and for wasting in the northern regions.
CONCLUSIONS: Children and adolescents living with HIV/AIDS in Tanzania suffer from poor nutritional status. Malnutrition does not occur arbitrarily, and the regions identified as hot spots should be given priority for nutritional intervention. Effective nutritional interventions for children living with HIV/AIDS should incorporate multiple approaches by considering unique geographical factors.