Objectives: The purpose of this study was to assess nutritional status and dietary practices in persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA).
Methods: A case-control design was used. Cases consisted of 36 PLWHA. Controls consisted of 37 persons within the same age range from the general population. Participants filled out a questionnaire consisting of sociodemographic, dietary and health history items. In addition, they had weight, height, upper mid-arm circumference and triceps skinfold measured using standard procedure. Biochemical and clinical data for cases were extracted from their clinic file.
Results: HIV-positive persons had significantly lower mean weight, BMI, upper mid-arm circumferences, arm muscle area and arm fat area than persons in the control group. They were also less likely to use multivitamins, dietary supplements, fruit and vegetables than persons in the control group. Correlation coefficients between corrected arm muscle area (CAMA) and BMI and weight ranged from 0.67 to 0.74 in cases and 0.41 to 0.68 for the control group, respectively. Screening for depleted CD4 counts using gender specific CAMA cut-offs indicative of depleted arm muscle reserves resulted in 48% sensitivity and 100% specificity in identifying PLWHA with CD4 counts < 200 cells/μL.
Conclusion: The findings suggest that PLWHA are at increased risk for poor intakes of fruits and vegetables and depleted lean body mass. In addition, CAMA along with other clinic measures might be useful in the identification of PLWHA who might be responding adequately to treatment.