Objective: To describe the association between 6-month weight gain on antiretroviral therapy (ART) and subsequent clinical outcomes.
Design: A retrospective analysis of a large programmatic cohort in Lusaka, Zambia.
Methods: Using Kaplan-Meier analysis and Cox proportional hazards models, we examined the association between 6-month weight gain and the risk of subsequent death and clinical treatment failure. Because it is a known effect modifier, we stratified our analysis according to body mass index (BMI).
Results: Twenty-seven thousand nine hundred fifteen adults initiating ART were included in the analysis. Patients in the lower BMI categories demonstrated greater weight gain. In the post 6-month analysis, absolute weight loss was strongly associated with mortality across all BMI strata, with the highest risk observed among those with BMI <16 kg/m2 (adjusted hazard ratio 9.7; 95% CI: 4.7 to 20.0). There seemed to be an inverse relationship between weight gain and mortality among patients with BMI <16 kg/m2. Similar trends were observed with clinical treatment failure.
Conclusions: Weight gain after ART initiation is associated with improved survival and decreased risk for clinical failure, especially in the lower BMI strata. Prospective trials to promote weight gain after ART initiation among malnourished patients in resource-constrained settings are warranted.