Mortality risks in children on ART measured by weight gaining

10 December 2014
An HIV ribbon

Poor gaining of weight in children under the age of 10 on antiretroviral treatment (ART) is associated with an increased risk of mortality. According to a recently published study in AIDS Journal, children with poor weight gain after 6 and 12 months of ART initiation have a higher risk of death in comparison to children who gained good weight.

Researchers studied 7,173 children under the age of 10 living in resource-poor settings. They constructed a model establishing the relation between age- and sex- specific weight gains and mortality risks, virological suppression and risk of virological failure at 6, 12, 18 and 24 months after ART initiation. Children who were in the bottom third in terms of weight gain had a threefold increase in death after six months and a two-fold increase after twelve months.

An estimated 3 million children are living with HIV, of which 90 percent live in sub-Saharan Africa. Monitoring of treatment through CD4 count and viral load testing has limited availability, and so other measures indicating treatment effectiveness are needed. Measurement of weight gain in children during their first year of ART treatment has shown to be a useful indicator for treatment success, and could therefore be a simple and highly valuable tool to be used for treatment efficiency and identify these children at high risk of death in resource-poor settings.

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