Decreased vigorous physical activity in school-aged children with human immunodeficiency virus in Johannesburg, South Africa

Marcia Wong, Stephanie Shiau, Michael T. Yin, Renate Strehlau, Faeezah Patel, Ashraf Coovadia, Lisa K. Micklesfield, Louise Kuhn, Stephen M. Arpadi

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21 Scopus citations


Objective To describe physical activity in South African children with and without HIV. Study design Study measurements were obtained in 218 children with perinatal HIV and 180 children without HIV aged 5-9 years in a study conducted in Johannesburg, South Africa. Weight-for-age z-score, height-for-age z-score, frequency and duration of moderate and vigorous physical activity, and sedentary behaviors were obtained. These measurements were compared between children with and without HIV. Results Weight-for-age z-score and height-for-age z-score were significantly lower for children with HIV compared with those without HIV. Among children who attended school, fewer children with HIV than children without HIV participated in physical education (41% vs 64%; P =.0003) and organized after-school sports (38% vs 64%; P <.001). The proportion of children in both groups meeting World Health Organization recommendations for physical activity was similar (84% overall); however, girls with HIV spent less time in vigorous physical activity than girls without HIV (420 vs 780 minutes/week; P =.001). This difference remained significant even when girls with a medical condition with the potential to limit physical activity were excluded, and after adjusting for age. Time spent in sedentary behaviors did not differ significantly between the two groups. Conclusion Although children with HIV with well-controlled disease after initiating antiretroviral therapy early in life achieve high levels of physical activity, vigorous physical activity is lower in girls with HIV than in healthy controls. This finding may reflect lower participation in school-based physical education and organized after-school physical activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-109
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
StatePublished - May 1 2016
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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