HIV/AIDS Clinical Manifestations and their Implication for Patient Clinical Staging in Resource Limited Settings in Tanzania

Idindili Boniphace*, 1, 2, 3, Minzi Omari4, Rumisha Susan Fred1, 3, 5, Mugusi Ferdinand6, Tanner Marcel1, 3
1 Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Socinstrasse 57, 4002 Basel, Switzerland
2 Tumbi Region Hospital, P.O. Box 30041 Kibaha, Tanzania
3 University of Basel, Petersplatz 1, 4002 Basel, Switzerland
4 Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, School of Pharmacy, Unit of Pharmacology & Therapeutics, P.O Box 65013 Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
5 National Institute for Medical Research, Tanzania, P.O. Box 9653 Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
6 Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, School of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, P.O Box 65000 Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

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© Boniphace et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Socinstrasse 57, 4002 Basel, Switzerland; Tel: +255(0)754 329591; +255222124885; E-mails:,



Tanzania HIV/AIDS management follows WHO clinical staging which requires CD4 counts as complement. Lacking CD4 counts facilities in rural health facilities remains a challenge. Simplified and sensitive clinical staging based on local clinical patterns is useful to ensure effective care without CD4 counts.


To assess whether local HIV clinical manifestations can be used to guide HIV management in settings with limited access to CD4 counts in Tanzania.


A Cross-sectional study conducted at Tumbi and Chalinze health facilities documented clinical manifestations and CD4 counts in 360 HIV/AIDS patients. Simplified management groups comprised of severe and moderate disease were formed based on clinical manifestations and CD4 counts results. Symptoms with high frequency were used to predict severe disease.


A Weight loss (48.3%) and chronic cough (40.8 %) were the most reported manifestations in the study population. More than 50% of patients presented with CD4≤200. Most symptoms were found to be highly sensitive (71% to 93%) in predicting severe immunosuppression using CD4<200 cut-off point as a ‘Gold standard’. Chronic diarrhoea presented in 10.6%, and predicted well severe immunosuppression either alone (OR 1.95, 95%CI, 0.95-4.22) or in combination (OR 4.21, 95%CI 0.92-19.33) with other symptoms. Basing strictly on WHO clinical staging 30.8% of patients were detected to be severely immunosuppressed (Stage 4). While using our proposed management categories of severe and moderate immunosuppression 70% of patients were put into the severe immunosuppression group, consistent with CD4 cut-off count of≤350.


HIV/AIDS clinics managing large cohorts should develop validated site specific guidelines based on local experiences. Simplified guidelines are useful for resource constrained settings without CD4 counting facilities.

Keywords: HIV, AIDS, clinical manifestation, staging, peripheral, Tanzania..