XIX International AIDS Conference

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MOAB0205 - Oral Abstract


Clinical screening shows high prevalence of peripheral neuropathy in children taking antiretroviral therapy in rural South Africa

Presented by Remco P.H. Peters (South Africa).

M. van Ramshorst1, H. Struthers2, J.A. McIntyre2,3, R.P.H. Peters1


1Anova Health Institute, Khutso Kurhula Project, Tzaneen, South Africa, 2Anova Health Institute, Johannesburg, South Africa, 3University of Cape Town, School of Public Health, Cape Town, South Africa

Background: Peripheral neuropathy is a well-recognised and common condition in HIV-infected adults and may be related to use of antiretroviral therapy (ART) as well as be directly caused by HIV infection. Data on the prevalence, manifestations and risk factors of neuropathy in children are limited. Only few tools are available for clinical screening for peripheral neuropathy in children. We used the neuropathy symptom score (NSS) and neuropathy disability score (NDS) to screen for peripheral neuropathy in a cohort of children on ART.
Methods: In this cross-sectional study we included 182 children aged 5-15 years attending to healthcare facilities for ART collection in rural Mopani District, South Africa. Subjective and objective assessment of neuropathy was done using the NSS respectively NDS. These scores are feasible for resource-poor and skills-limited settings and only require a reflex hammer, cotton butt, tooth pick, and cold water. A definite diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy was defined by NSS ≥3 or NDS ≥ 2.
Results: Neuropathy screening was completed for 174/182 (96%) of children as 8 children did not fully cooperate. Median age was 9 years old and time on ART 2.0 years (2 months - 6.4 years) with 86% on a stavudine-containing regimen. Symptoms related to neuropathy were reported by 49 children (27%) while NDS was positive for 25 children (14%). Forty-one (24%) of children fulfilled the criteria of peripheral neuropathy. Co-trimoxazole use was negatively associated with neuropathy presentation (OR 0.42, 95% CI 0.20 - 0.88; p=0.019) while there were tendencies for peripheral neuropathy to be associated with older age (p=0.09) and longer time on ART (p=0.06).
Conclusions: Peripheral neuropathy is a common condition in children collecting ART at healthcare facilities in rural Mopani District. The NSS and NDS can be used to screen for this condition in resource-poor settings.


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