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J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 1993 Jun;6(6):611-6.

Role of nutritional status and weight loss in HIV seroconversion among Rwandan women.

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Department of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco.


To investigate nutritional status and heterosexual human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) transmission, we performed a nested case-control study of sexually active, adult women in Kigali, Rwanda. Forty-five women who seroconverted during the 24-month study period were compared to 74 women who remained seronegative throughout the study. Seroconvertors and nonseroconvertors did not differ in preseroconversion serum levels of vitamin A, carotenoids, vitamin E, selenium, albumin, ferritin, or cholesterol. Weight loss, however, was a significant predictor of eventual HIV seroconversion. Subsequent seroconvertors lost an average of 1.5 kg during the first 6 months of the study compared with a 1.0-kg gain (p = 0.001) for nonconvertors. Nine of 27 (33%) seroconvertors, compared with one of 44 (2%) controls, lost at least 5 kg in the 6-month period beginning 1 year before their seroconversion (odds ratio, 21.5, 95% confidence interval 4.1-112). The association between weight loss and seroconversion was independent of other potential risk factors such as socioeconomic status, pregnancy, and genital ulcer disease. In addition to these findings for measured weight loss during follow-up, reported weight loss before enrollment was also a risk factor for subsequent seroconversion. Additional studies of heterosexual HIV transmission are needed to determine whether or not weight loss is causally related to susceptibility for HIV infection.

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