Quality of life and needs assessment on people living with HIV and AIDS in Malawi

Angela Pei Chen Fan, Huai Ching Claire Kuo, Diana Yu Ting Kao, Donald E. Morisky, Yi Ming Arthur Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose. Malawi is a sub-Saharan African nation with a severe HIV epidemic. The quality of life (QoL) has never been investigated among people living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA) in Malawi. This study examines the QoL and associated factors including life needs among PLWHA at different stages of their illness in the northern region of Malawi. Methods. Survey analysis of consecutive outpatient participants receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy at the Rainbow Clinic and non-HIV patients receiving care at the affiliated Mzuzu Central Hospital during a one-month period was performed. Laboratory testing and clinical diagnosis were used to determine HIV status, determine CD4 count, and classify WHO clinical stage. A total of 267 HIV-infected patients and 598 non-HIV participants completed a needs assessment and a Short Form-36 (SF-36) questionnaire, which contained a QoL subscale. SF-36 subscales and needs assessment scores were analyzed using t-test, ANOVA test, and Generalized Linear Model-Tukey's test. Results. HIV-positive patients had significantly lower physical functioning (p=0.0365), mental health (p=0.001), social functioning (p<0.0001), and mental component summary (p=0.0069) scores than HIV-negative patients. Further, WHO Stage III HIV patients had significantly lower vitality (p=0.0439) and mental health (p=0.0022) scores than WHO Stages I and II patients; and WHO Stage IV patients had significantly lower vitality (p=0.0015), mental health (p=0.0006), and physical component summary (p=0.0443) scores than WHO Stages I and II patients. Finally, AIDS patients, as determined by CD4 count, had significantly lower bodily pain (p=0.0423) and physical component summary (p=0.0148) scores than non-AIDS, HIV-positive patients. Conclusion. HIV patients undergoing treatment in Malawi have a significantly lower QoL, both mentally and physically, than their non-HIV counterparts. Further, HIV patients at more advanced stages, both by the WHO definition and by CD4 count, have a significantly lower QoL than HIV patients at earlier stages of the disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-302
Number of pages16
JournalAIDS Care - Psychological and Socio-Medical Aspects of AIDS/HIV
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • AIDS
  • HIV
  • Malawi
  • quality of life
  • SF-36

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health(social science)
  • Social Psychology


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