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Predictors of Poor CD4 and Weight Recovery in HIV-Infected Children Initiating ART in South Africa
Published: Friday, March 16, 2012
Author: Brian C. Zanoni et al.

by Brian C. Zanoni, Thuli Phungula, Holly M. Zanoni, Holly France, E. Francis Cook, Margaret E. Feeney


To identify baseline demographic and clinical risk factors associated with poor CD4 and weight response after initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in a cohort of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected children in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.


We performed a retrospective cohort study of 674 children initiating antiretroviral therapy at McCord and St. Mary's hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, from August 2003 to December 2008.We extracted data from paper charts and electronic medical records to assess risk factors associated with CD4 and weight response using logistic regression.


From the initial cohort of 901 children <10 years old initiating ART between August 2003 and December 2008, we analyzed 674 children with complete baseline data. Viral suppression rates (<400 copies/ml) were 84% after six months of therapy and 88% after 12 months of therapy. Seventy-three percent of children achieved CD4 recovery after six months and 89% after 12 months. Weight-for-age Z-score (WAZ) improvements were seen in 58% of children after six months of ART and 64% after 12 months. After six months of ART, lower baseline hemoglobin (p?=?0.037), presence of chronic diarrhea (p?=?0.007), and virologic failure (p?=?0.046) were all associated with poor CD4 recovery by multivariate logistic regression. After 12 months of ART, poor CD4 recovery was associated with higher baseline CD4% (p?=?0.005), chronic diarrhea (p?=?0.02), and virologic failure (p<0.001). Age less than 3 years at ART initiation (p?=?0.0003), higher baseline CD4% (p<0.001), and higher baseline WAZ (p<0.001) were all associated with poor WAZ improvements after 6 months by multivariate logistic regression.


The presence of chronic diarrhea at baseline, independent of nutritional status and viral response, predicts poor CD4 recovery. Age at initiation of ART is an important factor in early WAZ response to ART, while viral suppression strongly predicts CD4 recovery but not WAZ improvement.