Background: We conducted this study to assess the immunologic effect of daily 20 mg zinc supplementation for 24 weeks in HIV-infected children older than 6 months receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy (ART).
Methods: Fifty-two HIV-infected children older than 6 months in whom ART was initiated were randomized to receive either 20 mg of zinc or placebo for a period of 24 weeks. Children underwent clinical examination, anthropometry, and laboratory evaluations: CD4% and count, viral load, and serum zinc level at baseline, 12 weeks, and 24 weeks. The primary outcome evaluated was CD4% value at the end of 12 and 24 weeks of study intervention in the enrolled children.
Results: Of 52 children enrolled, 49 completed the study. The median CD4% value rose from 10% to 23% at 12 weeks and to 24.5% at 24 weeks in the zinc group, whereas in the placebo group, the value rose from 11% to 20% at 12 weeks and to 22% at 24 weeks (P = 0.188 for comparison between the zinc and the placebo group at 12 wk and P = 0.3 for comparison at 24 wk). The median (interquartile range) log reductions in the viral load at 12 weeks in the 2 arms were similar at 12 (P = 0.84) and 24 weeks (P = 0.43).
Conclusions: Supplementation of 20 mg zinc daily for 24 weeks did not have any statistically significant effect on the increase in CD4%, decrease in viral load, anthropometric indices, and morbidity profile in HIV-infected children started on ART.