This was a prospective cohort study of pediatric patients (aged 1–10 years) initiating ART over a two year period at a public health facility in Johannesburg, South Africa. Understanding that macro – and micronutrient deficiencies, common in HIV, may accelerate disease progression, the purpose of the study was to describe anthropometry, dietary intake and dietary diversity of pediatric patients initiating antiretroviral therapy.
At enrollment, the study found that the children were not meeting WHO minimum requirements for the majority of nutrients including energy, fats, iron, calcium and Vitamin A at ART initiation. At least 40% of patients were receiving less than four of the main food groups.
The results highlight the need for dietary counselling and provision of nutritional supplementation at ART initiation for paediatric patients. Adequate nutrition should be established early at initiation, to improve growth, development and health outcomes.