oa Southern African Journal of Epidemiology and Infection - Associations with HIV status in children with diarrhoea in Cape Town, South Africa

Volume 21, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1015-8782
  • E-ISSN: 2220-1084



Diarrhoea and HIV are two of the biggest public health problems in children in Africa. Various patient characteristics namely; socio-demographic/-economic, clinical, health-seeking behaviour, and feeding practices were compared in children with diarrhoea who were HIV-infected, HIV-exposed or HIV-negative. Data were collected prospectively for the period April 2002 - April 2003 on children >6 weeks and <2 years old admitted to the Diarrhoeal Rehydration Unit at the Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital. Of the 350 patients enrolled, HIV status was known for 135 (38.6%) : 27 (20%) were HIV-infected, 47 (34.8%) were HIV-exposed and the remainder HIV-negative. No significant differences were found between the three groups for any of the socio-demographic or socio-economic determinants analysed. A significant difference (p=0.048) was observed between groups for health-seeking behaviour with more HIV-infected patients (29.6%) having sought a traditional healer before allopathic care. HIV-infected patients had more recurrent diarrhoea (p=0.001), were more often severely malnourished (p=0.002), were transferred more often to a long stay ward for prolonged care (p<0.001) and were less likely to be breastfed (p=0.005). The association with HIV-infected patients and seeking a traditional healer for healthcare could be due to a wide range of socio-cultural confounders, and requires further exploration.

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