Prevalence of HIV-related opportunistic diseases amongst HAART patients at the Federal Medical Centre in Owerri, Nigeria
Onyebuchi, Iroezindu Michael
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Background: The hallmark of HIV infection is immunosuppression which predisposes to unusual infections and malignancies generally known as opportunistic diseases (ODs). Globally, ODs are the major cause of morbidity and mortality in people living with HIV (PLHIV). Since the advent of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy (HAART), a significant decline in AIDS progression and ODs has been observed globally. However, most of the evidence suggesting sustained decline in AIDS progression and ODs has come from high-income settings with relatively less burden of ODs in the pre-HAART era. The findings of studies in high-income settings may not be generalizable to resource-limited settings. Lack of information regarding the burden of ODs in HAART-experienced populations in Nigeria and the risk factors for their occurrence has made it difficult to fully assess the sustained efficacy of HAART in the country. The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of and risk factors for HIV-related opportunistic diseases amongst HAART patients at the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) in Owerri, Nigeria. Study design and setting: A quantitative, cross-sectional descriptive and analytical study was conducted with 354 adult HIV-infected patients 15 years and above, who were on HAART for a minimum of 12 weeks at the HIV clinic of the FMC, Owerri, South-east Nigeria. Patients currently manifesting an OD whose onset ante-dated the commencement of HAART were excluded. The participants were recruited by simple random sampling. Data collection: Using a structured questionnaire, data was collected by clinicians through interviews, physical and laboratory examinations for patients that provided informed consent and met the study criteria. The questionnaire captured patient’s socio-demographic information and other relevant clinical/laboratory data. Data Analysis: The data was analysed using Epi info version 3.5.1 and Open Epi Version 2.2.1. Descriptive statistics for HIV-related ODs were carried out using percentages and frequencies tables for categorical variables and means (SD) or medians (IQR) for numerical variables. In univariate analysis, the Chi-square test was used to determine significance of association between OD and socio-demographic and clinical variables while the Student "t"-test was used to compare group means. Logistic regression model (multivariate analysis) was used to determine the independent risk factors for the occurrence of ODs using parameters that had a p-value of <0.25 on univariate analysis. All reported p-values <0.05 were considered statistically significant. Results: The mean age of the participants was 41.1 ± 10.0 years; and females were in the majority (65.8%). Over 40% of them were rural dwellers, 50.4% belonged to the lower socioeconomic class, and 55% had a monthly household income less than 20,000 Naira. Fifty percent (50%) of them had advanced immunosuppression at first presentation. The median duration of HAART (3 years) paralleled the median duration of HIV diagnosis (3.4 years) and HAART adherence rate was 78%. The overall prevalence of ODs was found to be 22.4%. Among the 76 patients diagnosed with ODs, the leading conditions were candidiasis (38.2%), TB (34.2%), dermatitis (25%), chronic diarrhoea (6.6%) and sepsis (6.6%). The independent risk factors for the occurrence of ODs were household income less than 20,000 Naira (Adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 2.4, 95% CI 1.1-5.1), HIV duration of less than 3 years (AOR= 2.1, 95% CI 1.1- 4.2), advanced WHO clinical stage at baseline (AOR= 8.1, 95% CI 4.0-16.4), baseline haemoglobin less than 10 g/dl (AOR= 2.9, 95% CI 1.3-56.1), current CD4 cell count less than 200 cells/μl (AOR= 3.0, 95% CI 1.14-6.2), and HAART non-adherence (AOR= 5.4, 95% CI 2.6-11.2). Past history of TB was found to be a strong predictor of TB (AOR= 5.3, 95% CI 1.4-20.2). Conclusions: Opportunistic diseases are common in patients receiving HAART in Nigeria and candidiasis and TB remain the leading conditions. Late presentation and HAART non-adherence are among the strongest risk factors for ODs in patients receiving HAART. Others include duration of HIV diagnosis less than 3 years, presence of anaemia at the time of first presentation and having a low CD4 cell count while on HAART. Beyond these clinical risk factors, poverty increases the risk of developing an OD during HAART and may emerge a strong determinant of HIV-related ODs in developing countries. Recommendations: A high index of suspicion for ODs remains necessary in HAART patients. Health education on HIV screening and early presentation should be intensified. PLHIV who are anaemic before commencement of HAART, those with low CD4 cell count despite HAART use, and low-income earners should become target groups for a more aggressive evaluation for ODs. Prophylaxis for TB and fungal infections in the absence of active disease should be widely implemented in developing countries. HAART adherence should be intensified.