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Am J Clin Nutr. 2011 Dec;94(6):1716S-1720S. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.018374. Epub 2011 Nov 16.

Severe malnutrition and metabolic complications of HIV-infected children in the antiretroviral era: clinical care and management in resource-limited settings.

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  • 1Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.


More than 2 million children globally are living with HIV infection and >90% of these reside in sub-Saharan Africa. Severe acute malnutrition (SAM) remains a major problem for HIV-infected children who live in resource-limited settings (RLS), and SAM is an important risk factor for mortality. SAM in HIV-infected children is associated with complications including electrolyte disorders, micronutrient deficiencies, and severe infections, which contribute to the high mortality. Access to antiretroviral therapy (ART) has significantly improved the survival of HIV-infected children, although the response to ART of children with SAM remains undocumented in the literature. Immune and virologic responses to ART in RLS are similar to those of infected children in resource-rich settings, but delays in initiation of therapy have led to a high early mortality. Antiretroviral drug toxicities have been described in children who receive therapy and may affect their quality of life and long-term survival. Metabolic complications of ART include lipodystrophy, dyslipidemia, lactic acidosis, insulin resistance, and osteopenia. These complications have been well described in adults and children from developed countries, but data from RLS are limited, and these complications may be compounded by SAM. In this article we review the epidemiology, clinical presentation, and complications of SAM in HIV-infected children and the metabolic complications of HIV-infected children in the era of ART, and discuss future research priorities for RLS.

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