Laar AK, Owusu WB and Yeboah K (2004)
HIV/AIDS is increasingly becoming a major public health problem. It has a profound effect on the body composition and nutritional status of individuals but our understanding of this is limited. While data on malnutrition, body composition, and dietary intake in HIV-infected persons is widely available in industrialized countries, they are scarce in African settings where endemic malnutrition and lack of nutrition management is common and can confound the livelihood of victims of this region. The need for studies of this nature in these settings thus cannot be overemphasized. This hospital-based cross-sectional study was therefore undertaken in Accra to determine the anthropometric characteristics of HIV/AIDS patients in relation to their dietary and lifestyle patterns, and their general socio-economic circumstances. One hundred and sixty HIV-infected outpatients from the Fevers Unit, Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital were studied. A study-specific semi-structured questionnaire was employed to solicit information on the background, socio-demographic, lifestyle characteristics and food consumption patterns of the study subjects. All anthropometric measurements were carried out using standard procedures. Outcome measures included weight, body mass index, waist-to-hip circumference ratio, head-to-chest circumference ratio, Mid Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC), and percent body fat. Twenty-six percent of the patients were malnourished based on body mass index values. The results also revealed that certain behavioral variables influenced their anthropometry. Whereas such variables as intake of nutritional supplements impacted positively on body weight and Body Mass Index, consumption of brewed alcoholic beverages had a negative impact of their MUACs. Statistically significant associations were found between intake of nutrient supplements and body mass index (p=0.044); between MUAC and consumption of alcoholic beverages (p=0.015), and between physical activity and MUAC (p<0.001). Further studies on this issue, especially on the anthropometry and quality of life of People Living With HIV/AIDS is recommended.