OBJECTIVE: To determine if there was a relationship between CD4 cell count, nutritional status and self-reported quality of life (QoL) in HIV-infected adults.
DESIGN: Descriptive study in the quantitative research domain.
SETTING: The out-patient antiretroviral (ARV) clinic at Dr George Mukhari Hospital (Ga-Rankuwa) (institutional).
SUBJECTS: The study group (n = 90) consisted of male (n = 34) and female patients (18 - 50 years) diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. Convenience sampling was used.
OUTCOME MEASURES: Anthropometry (weight, height, BMI, MUAC, TSF), dietary intake (habitual food intake recall) and QoL (WHOQoL-HIV questionnaire) were assessed. Data collection was done from January - April 2007.
RESULTS: Significant, but poor, positive correlation was found for the following anthropometrical parameters and the CD4 cell count: weight (r = 0.37; p = 0.00), BMI (r = 0.39; p = 0.00), and MUAC (r = 0.36; p = 0.00). The study group had a poor dietary quality. Significant correlation with the CD4 cell count was found for the following domains of the QoL: physical activity (r = 0.27; p = 0.01), psychological (r = 0.27; p = 0.01), level of independence (r = 0.36; p = 0.00), and environmental (r = 0.27; p = 0.01). The overall QoL assessment was average, according to the WHOQoL-HIV questionnaire score.
CONCLUSION: Significant positive relationships existed between specific anthropometry and the CD4 cell count, and also between certain QoL domains and the CD4 cell count. Strategies for increasing dietary diversity and QoL ought to be identified and implemented in communities.
RECOMMENDATION: A longitudinal study would give better understanding of the relationship between nutritional status, the CD4 cell count and QoL.