Risk Factors for Hypoxia and Tachypnea Among Adolescents With Vertically-acquired HIV in Nairobi

Document Type



Internal Medicine (East Africa)


Background: Chronic lung diseases are increasingly recognized complications of vertically-acquired HIV among adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa and may manifest with hypoxia or tachypnea. We sought to determine the prevalence of and risk factors for hypoxia and tachypnea among adolescents with vertically-acquired HIV in Nairobi, Kenya.

Methods: We performed a cross-sectional analysis of 258 adolescents with vertically-acquired HIV who were initiating care at the Coptic Hope Center for Infectious Diseases. Adolescents with documented pneumonia were excluded. Hypoxia was defined as resting oxygen saturation ≤92%, and tachypnea was based on the 99th percentile of age-appropriate respiratory rates. Logistic regression models adjusted for demographics, and HIV severity estimated odds ratios for risk of hypoxia and tachypnea associated with potential risk factors.

Results: Overall, 11% of adolescents had hypoxia and 55% had tachypnea. Advanced HIV [adjusted odds ratio (aOR): 2.41] and low CD4 (aOR: 1.74) were associated with greater hypoxia risk, but confidence intervals (CIs) were wide and included the null (95% CI: 0.93–6.23 and 0.69–4.39, respectively). Low CD4 (aOR: 2.45, 95% CI: 1.39–4.32), current antiretroviral therapy use (aOR: 0.48, 95% CI: 0.27–0.86) and stunted growth (aOR: 3.46, 95% CI: 1.94–6.18) were associated with altered tachypnea risk.

Conclusions: Hypoxia and tachypnea are common among adolescents with vertically-acquired HIV. There was a suggestion that advanced HIV and low CD4 were associated with greater hypoxia risk. Low CD4, lack of antiretroviral therapy use and stunted growth are risk factors for tachypnea. Our findings highlight the chronic lung disease burden in this population and may inform diagnostic algorithms.


Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal