Peripheral neuropathy and quality of life of adults living with HIV/AIDS in the Rulindo district of Rwanda

04 Feb 2013

Although the life expectancy of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWH) has increased in the past years, they could experience secondary illness such as peripheral neuropathy (PN). Therefore, they need to adapt to chronic disablement which could affect their quality of life (QoL). The research that informed this article aimed at determining the prevalence of PN among adults living with HIV/AIDS and attending the outpatients’ clinic at Rutongo Hospital in the Rulindo district of Rwanda. Another aim was to determine these patients’ QoL. A cross-sectional descriptive quantitative research design was used. A time-constrained method was used to sample 185 adults living with HIV/AIDS and attending the outpatients’ clinic at Rutongo Hospital. The subjective PN screen and the World Health Organization Quality of Life Scale Brief Version were used to collect the data. Data were analysed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences. Student’s t-test and one-way analysis of variance were performed to determine if significant differences existed between QoL scores in participants with and without PN symptoms. The results indicated that 40.5% of respondents experienced PN. QoL in participants with PN showed significantly lower scores in the physical (p ¼ 0.013) and psychological (p ¼ 0.020) domains when compared with those who did not have PN. These results indicate a high prevalence of neuropathy among PLWH attending the outpatients’ clinic at Rutongo Hospital. In addition, patients with neuropathy had lower QoL scores in the physical and psychological domains than those without neuropathy symptoms. The management of PLWH should therefore include interventions to optimise QoL as well as screening for neuropathy symptoms so that sufferers can liaise with their medical providers to find medical and supportive therapies that could assist them.