Research

High prevalence of multimorbidity and non-communicable disease risk factors in South African adolescents and youth living with HIV: Implications for integrated prevention

M Kamkuemah, B Gausi, T Oni

Abstract


Background. Adolescents and youth living with HIV (AYLHIV) face an elevated non-communicable disease (NCD) risk resulting from HIV, psychosocial challenges, and the complications of antiretroviral therapy.

Objectives. To investigate the prevalence of common NCDs and their risk factors among AYLHIV in urban Cape Town, South Africa, in order to inform an integrated approach to NCD screening and prevention in AYLHIV.

Methods. We conducted a cross-sectional study in six primary care facilities in Cape Town between March 2019 and January 2020. We collected sociodemographic information, and assessed dietary intake, physical activity and nutritional knowledge. We also screened for pre-existing and previously unidentified NCDs and modifiable risk factors in 92 adolescents and youth receiving treatment for HIV in primary care settings using self-report and objective measures. Differences between sexes and age groups were compared using parametric and non-parametric statistical tests.

Results. Three out of four participants were female, and the median (interquartile range) age was 20.5 (18.9 - 22.9) years. More than a quarter were not in education, employment or training, and 44% were multidimensionally poor. Five percent of participants had measured hypertension, and 37% had central obesity. AYLHIV self-reported high levels of household food insecurity (70%), low daily fruit and vegetable consumption (28% and 52%, respectively), high refined sugar and sugar-sweetened beverage intake (31% and 29% daily intake, respectively), regularly skipping breakfast (42%), low nutritional knowledge (37% average score) and insufficient weekly physical activity levels (31%). A third (30%) were current smokers, and 24% engaged in binge drinking.

Conclusions. Our findings of a high prevalence of NCDs and risk factors in AYLHIV highlight the importance of NCD risk screening as part of HIV care for AYLHIV. Such integrated approaches are needed to achieve the dual purpose of improving outcomes through early diagnosis of pre-existing NCDs as well as the prevention of NCD multimorbidity in AYLHIV. This study further demonstrates the need for early intervention on the social, environmental and economic determinants of NCDs targeting adolescents and youth.


Authors' affiliations

M Kamkuemah, Research Initiative for Cities Health and Equity (RICHE), Division of Public Health Medicine, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, South Africa

B Gausi, Research Initiative for Cities Health and Equity (RICHE), Division of Public Health Medicine, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, South Africa

T Oni, Research Initiative for Cities Health and Equity (RICHE), Division of Public Health Medicine, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, South Africa; Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit, University of Cambridge, UK

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Keywords

Adolescents; HIV; Non-communicable diseases; Risk factors; Prevention; Epidemiology; Multimorbidity

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2022;112(4):259-267.

Article History

Date submitted: 2022-04-04
Date published: 2022-04-04

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