Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Evaluating the diagnostic capacity of a single-question neuropathy screen (SQNS) in HIV positive Zambian adults
  1. Prem A Kandiah1,
  2. Masharip Atadzhanov2,
  3. Michelle P Kvalsund3,
  4. Gretchen L Birbeck4,5
  1. 1Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA
  2. 2Department of Medicine, University of Zambia, Lusaka, Zambia
  3. 3Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee, USA
  4. 4International Neurologic & Psychiatric Epidemiology Program, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA
  5. 5Chikankata Health Services, Mazabuka, Zambia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Gretchen L Birbeck, 324 West Fee Hall, East Lansing, MI 48824, USA; gretchen.birbeck{at}


A single-question neuropathy screen (SQNS) is routinely included in the enrolment data for people commencing antiretroviral therapy in publically funded clinics in Zambia. The authors assessed the sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive value of this SQNS against the Brief Peripheral Neuropathy Screen (BPSN) in detecting HIV-associated sensory neuropathy in patients recruited from a rural and an urban hospital in Zambia. The SQNS was asked followed by conduct of the BPNS by the neurology resident assisted by a Zambian healthcare worker/translator. 77 patients (48 (62.3%) urban and 29 (37.7%) rural) were enrolled. 13 subjects were excluded due to altered mental status. The mean age was 33.7 years (range 15–53 years; SD±7.81). The SQNS was 95.7% sensitive and 80.0% specific, with 88.2% positive predictive value and 92.3% negative predictive value. Age, geographical location, gender and WHO stage were all unrelated to the performance of the SQNS (p>0.05). Despite its reliance on symptoms alone, this study suggests that the SQNS may be a valid research tool for identifying HIV-associated neuropathy among advanced stage HIV patients in Zambia.

  • Epidemiology
  • AIDS
  • neuropathy
  • neuroepidemiology

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Funding Doris Duke Charitable Foundation's ORACTA programme.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by the University of Zambia Research Ethics Committee as part of a larger study of ARV adherence in Zambia.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.