Background: To achieve effective antiretroviral therapy (ART) outcomes, adherence to an antiretroviral regimen and a good immunometabolic response are essential. Food insecurity can act as a real barrier to adherence to both of these factors. Many people living with human immunodeficiency virus (PLHIV) treated with ART in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are faced with nutritional challenges. A significant proportion are affected by under nutrition, which frequently leads to therapeutic failure. Some HIV care facilities recommend supplementation with Moringa oleifera (M.O.) Lam. leaf powder to combat marginal and major nutritional deficiencies. This study aims to assess the impact of M.O. Lam. leaf powder supplementation compared to nutritional counseling on the nutritional and immune status of PLHIV treated with ART.
Methods: A single-blind randomized control trial was carried out from May to September 2013 at an outpatient clinic for HIV-infected patients in Kinshasa (DRC). Sixty adult patients who were at stable HIV/AIDS clinical staging 2, 3 or 4 according to the World Health Organization (WHO), and were undergoing ART were recruited. After random allocation, 30 patients in the Moringa intervention group (MG) received the M.O. Lam. leaf powder daily over 6 months, and 30 in the control group (CG) received nutritional counseling over the same period. Changes in the body mass index (BMI) were measured monthly and biological parameters were measured upon admission and at the end of the study for the patients in both groups.
Results: The two study groups were similar in terms of long-term nutritional exposure, sociodemographic, socioeconomic, clinical, and biological features. At 6 months follow-up, patients in the MG exhibited a significantly greater increase in BMI and albumin levels than those in the CG. The interaction between the sociodemographic, clinical, and biological characteristics of patients in the two groups was not significant, with the exception of professional activity.
Conclusions: Under medical supervision, M.O. Lam. leaf powder supplementation may represent a readily available and effective local solution to improve the nutritional intake and nutritional status of PLHIV undergoing ART.
Trial registration: The study was retrospectively registered in the Pan African Clinical Trial Registry on 15 May 2015, no. PACTR201505001076143.
Keywords: Antiretroviral therapy; Body mass index; CD4 count; DR Congo; HIV; Moringa oleifera; Supplementation.