Prevalence of undernutrition and associated factors among adults taking antiretroviral therapy in sub-Saharan Africa: A systematic review and meta-analysis


BACKGROUND: Undernutrition (Body Mass Index < 18.5 kg/m2) is a common problem and a major cause of hospital admission for patients living with HIV. Though sub-Saharan Africa is the most commonly affected region with HIV and malnutrition, a meta-analysis study that estimates the prevalence and correlates of undernutrition among adults living with HIV has not yet been conducted. The objective of this study was to determine the pooled prevalence of undernutrition and associated factors among adults living with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. METHODS: Studies published in English were searched systematically from databases such as PubMed, Google Scholar, and gray literature, as well as manually from references in published articles. Observational studies published from 2009 to November 2021 were included. The data extraction checklist was prepared using Microsoft Excel and includes author names, study area, publication year, sample size, prevalence/odds ratio, and confidence intervals. The results were presented and summarized in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) standard. Heterogeneity was investigated using the Q test, I2, I,2, I, and predictive interval. STATA version 17 was used to analyze the data. A meta-analysis using a random-effects model was used to determine the overall prevalence and adjusted odds ratio. The study has been registered in PROSPERO with a protocol number of CRD42021268603. RESULTS: In this study, a total of 44 studies and 22,316 participants were included. The pooled prevalence of undernutrition among adult people living with HIV (PLWHIV) was 23.72% (95% CI: 20.69–26.85). The factors associated with undernutrition were participants’ age (AOR = 0.5, 95% CI: 0.29–0.88), gender (AOR = 2.08, 95% CI: 0.22–20.00), World Health Organization (WHO) clinical stage (AOR = 3.25, 95% CI: 2.57–3.93), Cluster of Differentiation 4 (CD4 count) (AOR = 1.94, 95% CI: 1.53–2.28), and duration of ART (AOR = 2.32, 95% CI: 1.6–3.02). CONCLUSION: The pooled prevalence of undernutrition among adult PLWHIV in sub-Saharan Africa remained high. WHO clinical stage, CD4 count, duration of ART treatment, age, and sex were found to be the factors associated with undernutrition. Reinforcing nutrition counseling, care, and support for adults living with HIV is recommended. Priority nutritional screening and interventions should be provided for patients with advanced WHO clinical stages, low CD4 counts, the male gender, younger age groups, and ART beginners.


Seid A, Seid O, Workineh Y, Dessie G, Bitew ZW




  • Epidemiology and Determinants of Health
    • Epidemiology
  • Population(s)
    • General HIV+ population
  • Prevention, Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Engagement and Care Cascade
  • Engagement and Care Cascade
    • Treatment
  • Health Systems
    • Delivery arrangements


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