Background Body Mass Index (BMI) is a statistical measure which compares a person's weight and height. It is used to estimate a healthy body weight based on a person's height. This measure is pertinent to use in HIV positives since weight loss is used as a proxy measure for clinical progression of HIV disease in that more weight loss is associated with advancing disease and often precedes clinical symptoms. We sought to measure BMI among HIV+ female adolescents to see if this is the best tool to use in immune-compromised populations.
Methods Data were pulled out from an ongoing RCT entitled SHAZ! Plus. (N=650). It enrols HIV +ive female adolescents who are out of school. Data were collected at baseline, 6, 12 and 18-month follow-up visits, with the project facilitating ongoing care, ART and support to those in need of it. BMI was calculated using Adolphe Quetelet BMI calculator of weight in kg over height in m2 (kg/m2). BMI prime 25 was also calculated and used to compare the BMI results. Sample of xx used.
Results 64.5% of the cohort had BMIs falling within normal ranges 18.5 to 25. 33.8% had BMIs of <18.5 and 0.16% had a BMI of >25. 64.5% had BMI prime that fell within normal ranges of 0.74 and 0.99. 33.8% had BMI prime of <0.74 and 0.16% had a BMI prime of >1.00. The average BMI at baseline was 19.35 Weight ranged from 25 to 70 at baseline, average was 47.71.
Conclusion Results call for the need to come up with an adjusted BMI index for female adolescents who are immuno-compromised to use as a standard measure for optimal health. BMI however has it's shortcomings since it does not measure the actual body fat. In resource poor settings, a simple tool like weight lost or gained over time might be a good indicator of clinical progression of HIV as opposed to validated tools like the BMI.
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