Theresa J Allain
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Researcher at College of Medicine, University of Malawi
PLOS ONE, 2020-02-25
Background: Severe anaemia is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in HIV-infected adults living in resource-limited countries. Comprehensive data on the aetiology is lacking and needed to improve outcomes. Methods: HIV-infected adults with severe (haemoglobin ≤70g/l) or very severe anaemia (haemoglobin ≤50 g/l) were recruited at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Blantyre, Malawi. Fifteen potential causes of severe anaemia of anaemia and associations with anaemia severity and mortality were explored. Results: 199 patients were enrolled: 42.2% had very severe anaemia and 45.7% were on ART. Over two potential causes for anaemia were present in 94% of the patients; including iron deficiency (55.3%), underweight (BMI<20: 49.7%), TB-infection (41.2%) and unsuppressed HIV-infection (viral load >1000 copies/ml) (73.9%). EBV/CMV co-infection (16.5%) was associated with very severe anaemia (OR 2.8 95% CI 1.1-6.9). Overall mortality was high (53%; 100/199) with a median time to death of 16 days. Death was associated with folate deficiency (HR 2.2; 95% CI 1.2-3.8) and end stage renal disease (HR 3.2; 95% CI 1.6-6.2). Conclusion: Mortality among severely anaemic HIV-infected adults is strikingly high. Clinicians must be aware of the urgent need for a multifactorial approach, including starting or optimising HIV treatment; considering TB treatment, nutritional support and attention to potential renal impairment.
Introduction: Iron deficiency is a treatable cause of severe anaemia in low-and-middle-income-countries (LMIC). Diagnosing it remains challenging as peripheral blood markers poorly reflect bone-marrow iron deficiency (BM-ID), especially in the context of HIV-infection. Methods: Severe anaemic (haemoglobin ≤70g/l) HIV-infected adults were recruited at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Blantyre, Malawi. BM-ID was evaluated. Accuracy of blood markers including hepcidin alongside mean corpuscular volume, mean cellular haemoglobin concentration, serum iron, serum ferritin, soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR), sTfR -index, sTfR –ratio to detect BM-ID was valued by ROC area under the curve (AUCROC ). Results: Seventy-three patients were enrolled and 35 (48.0%) had BM-ID. Hepcidin and MCV performed best; AUCROC of 0.593 and 0.545. Other markers performed poorly (ROC<0.5). The AUCROC of hepcidin in males was 0.767 (sensitivity 80%, specificity 78%) and in women 0.490 (sensitivity 60%, specificity 61%). Conclusion: BM-ID deficiency was common in severely anaemic HIV-infected patients and is an important and potential treatable contributor to severe anaemia. Hepcidin was the best, though still suboptimal, marker of BM-ID. Hepcidin, which is directly linked to iron absorption, is a very promising marker to guide curative iron supplementation policies in severely anaemic HIV-infected patients.