Infection with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is highly prevalent worldwide, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, where anaemia is also widespread. HIV infection is known to be associated with anaemia and various other haematologic alterations, but little data on correlation with immunological and virologic conditions in treatment-naïve patients and impact on mortality are available. Our study aims to investigate hematologic features in HIV-infected individuals in Malawi and Mozambique and assesses possible correlations with early morality.
Material and methods
We conducted a retrospective analysis of baseline data (general details, nutritional status, full blood count and HIV infection progress data) and 12 months follow-up status for HIV+ adult patients in 22 health facilities in Malawi (11 sites) and Mozambique (11 sites) run by DREAM program. Anagraphic details, anthropometric characteristics, full blood count, CD4+ count and Viral Load data were collected from electronical medical records (EMR) for all the HIV-positive, treatment-naïve patients starting care in the sites in the period January 2007 –December 2016. Follow-up status after one year since enrolment in care was also considered. All the data extracted from the EMR were included in a dataset and then analysed. Univariate and multivariate analysis were conducted through logistical regression to investigate associations, and survival analysis analysed in a Cox regression model.
On the whole, 22.657 patients were included; severe and moderate anaemia were observed in 1.174 (8,2%) and 4.703 (21,9%) patients respectively. Gender, nutritional status, CD4+ count, and viral load (VL) were associated with anaemia, leukopenia, and thrombocytopenia. Among 21.166 fully evaluable patients, 8.494 (40,1%) had at least one cytopenia. Any cytopenia was present in 1/3 of patients with normal nutritional status and less advanced HIV infection, and it wouldn’t be diagnosed in a basic HIV care setting. During the first year of treatment, 1.725 subjects (7,6% of the entire sample) died. Anaemia, lower Red blood cells and platelets counts correlated with mortality in the first year of care, independently by body mass index, haemoglobin, CD4+ count and VL.
Notwithstanding anaemia is known to be associated with HIV infection at diagnosis, full blood count is not routinely performed in many African countries. Our results emphasize that including the study of a broader set of parameters in the routine HIV care services in Sub-Saharan Africa would provide significant clinical information able to predict other alterations and poor outcomes.