The association between aflatoxin exposure and alteration in immune responses observed in humans suggest that aflatoxin could suppress the immune system and work synergistically with HIV to increase disease severity and progression to AIDS. No longitudinal study has been conducted to assess exposure to aflatoxin (AF) among HIV positive individuals.
We examined temporal variation in AFB1
albumin adducts (AF-ALB) in HIV positive Ghanaians, and assessed the association with socioeconomic and food consumption factors. We collected socioeconomic and food consumption data for 307 HIV positive antiretroviral naive adults and examined AF-ALB levels at recruitment (baseline) and at six (follow-up 1) and 12 (follow-up 2) months post-recruitment, by age, gender, socioeconomic status (SES) and food consumption patterns. Generalized linear models were used to examine the influence of socioeconomic and food consumption factors on changes in AF-ALB levels over the study period, adjusting for other covariates. AF-ALB levels (pg/mg albumin) were lower at baseline (mean AF-ALB: 14.9, SD: 15.9), higher at six months (mean AF-ALB: 23.3, SD: 26.6), and lower at 12 months (mean AF-ALB: 15.3, SD: 15.4). Participants with the lowest SES had the highest AF-ALB levels at baseline and follow up-2 compared with those with higher SES. Participants who bought less than 20% of their food and who stored maize for less than two months had lower AF-ALB levels. In the adjusted models, there was a statistically significant association between follow up time and season (dry or rainy season) on AF-ALB levels over time (p
= 0.04). Asymptomatic HIV-positive Ghanaians had high plasma AF-ALB levels that varied according to season, socioeconomic status, and food consumption patterns. Steps need to be taken to ensure the safety and security of the food supply for the population, but in particular for the most vulnerable groups such as HIV positive people.
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