OBJECTIVES: HIV infection has been associated with an impaired lung function in high-income countries, but the association between HIV infection and pulmonary function in Sub-Saharan Africa remains unclear. This study aims to investigate the relation between HIV infection and pulmonary function in a rural African population.
METHODS: A cross-sectional study was conducted among HIV-positive and HIV-negative adults in a rural area in South Africa, as part of the Ndlovu Cohort Study. A respiratory questionnaire and post-bronchodilator spirometry were performed. Multivariable regression analysis was used to investigate whether HIV was independently associated with a decrease in post-bronchodilator FEV1/FVC ratio considering age, sex, body mass index, respiratory risk factors and a history of a pulmonary infection (tuberculosis (TB) or a pneumonia). Possible mediation by a history of pulmonary infection was tested by removing this variable from the final model.
RESULTS: Two hundred and one consecutive participants were enrolled in the study in 2016, 84 (41.8%) were HIV-positive (82.1% on ART). The median age was 38 (IQR 29-51) years. Following multivariable analysis HIV was not significantly associated to a decline in post-bronchodilator FEV1/FVC ratio (beta -0.017, p 0.18). However, upon removal of a history of a pulmonary infection from the final model HIV was significantly related to post-bronchodilator FEV1/FVC ratio, beta -0.026, p 0.03.
CONCLUSIONS: Pulmonary function is affected by HIV infection which most likely results from co-infection with TB or other pneumonia. Further research should focus on the influence of a pulmonary infection, most notably TB, on pulmonary function, especially as the incidence of TB is high in HIV infection.