Characteristics and impacts of nutritional programmes to address undernutrition of adults living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa: A systematic review of evidence


OBJECTIVES: Although some studies have identified various challenges affecting nutritional programmes to effectively tackle undernutrition among people living with HIV, evidence about the characteristics and impacts of these programmes on weight-related nutritional outcomes varies based on country contexts, specific programme goals and the implementation processes. This systematic review sought to synthesise evidence on the characteristics and impact of nutritional programmes on weight-related nutritional outcomes of people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. DESIGN: Systematic review. DATA SOURCES: We searched for primary studies published in the following databases: Web of Science, Medline, Scopus, ScienceDirect, ProQuest and Google Scholar, supplemented by checking reference lists of included papers. ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA: Studies published from 2005 to 10 July 2020 and reporting on the weight-related nutritional outcomes of undernourished people enrolled in nutritional programmes in HIV care in sub-Saharan Africa were included. DATA EXTRACTION AND SYNTHESIS: Data were extracted using a data extraction proforma. Weight-related nutritional outcomes of people living with HIV before and after enrolment in a nutritional programme were compared and narratively synthesised. RESULTS: Sixteen studies assessing the impact of nutritional programmes in HIV care on weight-related nutritional outcomes were included. Of these, 13 examined nutritional programmes implemented in health facilities and the remaining three were delivered outside of health facilities. Nutritional recovery (defined differently in the studies) ranged from 13.1% to 67.9%. Overall programme failure rate, which included default after enrolment in a nutritional programme or non-response, ranged from 37.6% to 48.0%. More specifically, non-response to a nutritional programme ranged from 21.0% to 67.4% and default from the programme ranged from 19.0% to 70.6%. Key sociodemographic, clinical and nutritional characteristics that affect nutritional recovery, non-response and default were also identified. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS: Nutritional programmes in HIV care have led to some improvements in weight-related nutritional outcomes among people living with HIV. However, the programmes were characterised by a high magnitude of default and non-response. To improve desired weight-related nutritional outcomes of people living with HIV, a holistic approach that addresses longer-term determinants of undernutrition is needed.


Tesfay FH, Javanparast S, Gesesew H, Mwanri L, Ziersch A




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Epidemiology
    • Determinants of Health
  • Determinants of Health
    • Food security
  • Population(s)
    • General HIV+ population
  • Co-morbidities
    • Other


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