Original Research

The prevalence of co-morbidities in patients on HAART referred for physiotherapy in three public hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: a short report

S. S. Mahraj, P. Ranjiah
South African Journal of Physiotherapy | Vol 66, No 3 | a245 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajp.v66i3.245 | © 2010 S. S. Mahraj, P. Ranjiah | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 19 February 2010 | Published: 19 February 2010

About the author(s)

S. S. Mahraj, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
P. Ranjiah, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

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Introduction: The roll-out of Highly Active Antiretroviral Therapy
(HAART) to patients infected with the Human Immuno-deficient Virus (HIV) is presenting with co-morbidities as a result of the side effects of the drugs or the prolonged lifespan of the HIV positive individual. This poses a challenge to physiotherapists for rehabilitation which has changed from prophylaxis and management of opportunistic infections to managing the co-morbidities. The aim of this preliminary study was to determine the number of patients on HAART with co-morbidities admitted to three public hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal and referred for physiotherapy.Method: This descriptive epidemiological study used a cross-sectional design to determine the prevalence of co-morbidities associated with HAART. Baseline data of patients and their demographics, AIDS status and clinical co-morbidities were recorded. The sample consisted of 78 patients with an average CD4 count of 338 cells/mm³ and a viral load of 133 copies/mL. Patients were categorised according to their HIV stages: 13 (17%) asymptomatic, 44 (56%) ‘AIDS-related complex’ and 21 (27%) had full blown AIDS.Results: Patients referred for physiotherapy presented with peripheral neuropathy 36 (46%), pulmonary tuberculosis 29 (37%), musculo-skeletal pain 17(22%), myopathies 9 (12%), pneumonia 8 (10%), enthesopathies 4 (5%), cerebral
vascular accidents 2 (3%) and abdominal pain 1(1%). Conclusion: To rehabilitate the HIV infected individual successfully physiotherapists should note the side effects and co-morbidities associated with HAART.


Hiv; profile; admission; referral; physiotherapy


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