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AIDS. 2006 Jun 26;20(10):1437-46.

HIV incidence among post-partum women in Zimbabwe: risk factors and the effect of vitamin A supplementation.

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  • 1Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of International Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.



To test whether post-partum vitamin A supplementation can reduce incident HIV among post-partum women and identify risk factors for HIV incidence.


Randomized, placebo-controlled trial


Between November 1997 and January 2001, 14,110 women were randomly administered 400,000 IU vitamin A or placebo within 96 h post-partum. HIV incidence was monitored among 9562 HIV-negative women.


Cumulative incidence was 3.4% [95% confidence interval (CI), 3.0-3.8] and 6.5% (95% CI, 5.7-7.4) over 12 and 24 months post-partum, respectively. Vitamin A supplementation had no impact on incidence [hazard ratio (HR), 1.08; 95% CI, 0.85-1.38]. However, among 398 women for whom baseline serum retinol was measured, those with levels indicative of deficiency (< 0.7 micromol/l, 9.2% of those measured) were 10.4 (95% CI, 3.0-36.3) times more likely to seroconvert than women with higher concentrations. Furthermore, among women with low serum retinol, vitamin A supplementation tended to be protective against incidence (HR, 0.29; 95% CI, 0.03-2.60; P = 0.26), although not significantly so, perhaps due to limited statistical power. Severe anaemia (haemoglobin < 70 g/l) was associated with a 2.7-fold (95%CI, 1.2-6.1) greater incidence. Younger women were at higher risk of HIV infection: incidence declined by 5.7% (2.8-8.6) with each additional year of age.


Among post-partum women, a single large-dose vitamin A supplementation had no effect on incidence, although low serum retinol was a risk factor for seroconversion. Further investigation is required to determine whether vitamin A supplementation of vitamin-A-deficient women or treatment of anaemic women can reduce HIV incidence.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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