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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

HIV associated hypocalcaemia among diarrheic patients in northwest Ethiopia: a cross sectional study

Beyene Moges1*, Bemnet Amare2, Timoki Yabutani3 and Afework Kassu4

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Immunology and Molecular Biology, School of Biomedical and Laboratory Sciences, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Gondar, Gondar, Ethiopia

2 Department of Biochemistry, School of Medicine, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Gondar, Gondar, Ethiopia

3 Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Tokushima, Tokushima, Japan

4 Department of Medical Microbiology, School of Biomedical and Laboratory Sciences, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Gondar, Gondar, Ethiopia

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:679  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-679

Published: 4 July 2014

Abstract

Background

Hypocalcaemia, defined by serum calcium level less than 8.5 mg/dl, could be caused by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and diarrheal diseases. In Ethiopia, while morbidities from diarrheal diseases and HIV are serious health problems, studies assessing the interactions amongst of the three do not exist. Therefore, the present study was undertaken to investigate the level of calcium among diarrheic patients with and without HIV co-infection.

Methods

Consecutive diarrheic patients attending Gondar University Hospital in Ethiopia were enrolled and screened for HIV, intestinal parasites, Shigella and Salmonella. Concentration of calcium in serum was determined using an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometer.

Results

A total of 206 diarrheic patients were included in the study (109 = HIV positive, 97 = HIV negative). Intestinal parasites and Shigella species were detected in 32.2% and 8.5% of the patients, respectively. The serum calcium levels in the patients who were found positive for Shigella species or intestinal parasites was not significantly different by the presence or absence of HIV co-infection. HIV infected diarrheic patients had significantly lower mean serum calcium levels (7.82 ± 1.23 mg/dl) than those negative for HIV (8.38 ± 1.97) (P = 0.015). The age groups 25–35 and greater than 45 years showed significantly lower mean serum calcium levels (7.77 ± 1.55 mg/dl) in comparison to the other age groups (7.84 ± 1.41 mg/dl, P = 0.009). On the other hand, females presented with significantly lower mean serum calcium levels (7.79 ± 1.60 mg/dl, P = 0.044) than males (8.26 ± 1.65 mg/dl).

Conclusion

There is high prevalence of hypocalcaemia among diarrheic patients in northwest Ethiopia. And HIV stood out to be a major risk factor for development of hypocalcaemia among the diarrheic patients in northwest Ethiopia. Further studies are required to substantiate and characterize the mechanisms and consequences of calcium metabolism disorders among HIV infected individuals in the study area.

Keywords:
Hypocalcaemi; Hypercalcaemia; HIV; Diarrhea; Ethiopia