To determine the independent contribution of specific nutritional factors on disease progression and survival in HIV-1-infected children.
HIV-infected children (N = 24), who were perinatally exposed to the virus and symptomatic, were recruited between October and December of 1990 from the Jackson Memorial Pediatric Immunology Clinic, Miami, Florida, and observed for 5 years.
Immune status was measured by CD4 cell count; nutritional status was determined using serum albumin and plasma trace elements including iron, zinc, and selenium. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to evaluate the relationship of these parameters to survival. Use of antiretroviral treatment was considered in the statistical model, and age at death was considered a parameter of disease progression.
Over the course of the study, 12 children died of HIV-related causes. The final Cox multivariate analysis indicated that, of the variables evaluated, only CD4 cell count below 200 (risk ratio [RR] = 7.05; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.87-26.5); p = .004], and low levels of plasma selenium (RR = 5.96; 95% CI, 1.32-26.81; p = .02) were significantly and independently related to mortality. Among the children who died, those with low selenium levels (≤85 μg/L), died at a younger age, suggesting more rapid disease progression.
In pediatric HIV-infection, low plasma level of selenium is an independent predictor of mortality, and appears to be associated with faster disease progression.