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J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2000 Oct 1;25 Suppl 1:S62-9.

Nutritional assessment in intravenous drug users with HIV/AIDS.

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Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins University, School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


Studying metabolic, endocrine, and gastrointestinal (MEG) disorders in drug abuse and HIV infection is important. Equally important, however, are the tools we use to assess these disorders. Assessment of nutritional status may include any combination of biochemical and body composition measurements, dietary intake assessment, and metabolic studies. Each method has its strengths and weaknesses and there is no perfect tool. When assessing nutritional status in injection drug users (IDU) and in HIV-infected people, the decision on which method or methods to use becomes even more complex. A review of studies reported during the XII World Conference on AIDS reveals that of 64 abstracts on the topic of nutrition in HIV-infected adults, only 11 assessed diet, 41 assessed anthropometry, and 24 assessed some form of biochemical measure. The most commonly reported methods for dietary intake included 24-hour recalls, food records, and food frequencies. The commonest methods used for measuring body composition included height, weight, bioimpedance, and dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). Biochemical measurements included various blood nutrients, lipids, and albumin. Methods varied greatly between studies, and caution should be taken when trying to compare results across studies, especially among those using different methods. Currently, few studies deal with the development of methods that can be used for research in HIV-infected and IDU populations. We need to work toward better tools in dietary intake assessment, body composition, and biochemical measurements, especially methods that will allow us to track changes in nutritional status over time.

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