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Hypochlorhydria in Zambia

Cite this dataset

Kayamba, Violet (2021). Hypochlorhydria in Zambia [Dataset]. Dryad.



Hypochlorhydria (gastric pH >4) increases susceptibility to diarrhoea, iron deficiency, and gastric cancer. We sought to clarify the prevalence of this condition and its predisposing factors in Zambia by pooling data from previous studies conducted in hospital and community settings.


Gastric pH was measured in participants from five separate studies by collecting gastric aspirate from fasted adults and from children under 3 years of age undergoing gastroscopy. Gastric pH was correlated with serological testing for Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infections. 


We studied 597 individuals (487 adults and 110 children). Hypochlorhydria was present in 53% of adults and 31% of children. HIV infection was detected in 41% of adults and 11% of children. H. pylori serology was available for 366 individuals: 93% of adults and 6% of children were seropositive. In univariate analysis, hypochlorhydria was significantly associated with HIV seropositivity (OR 1.7; 95% CI 1.2-2.4; p=0.004) and H. pylori antibody seropositivity(OR 4.9; 95% CI 2.8-8.6; p<0.0001), and with advancing age in HIV negative individuals (p=0.0001). In multivariable analysis, only H. pylori was associated with hypochlorhydria (OR 4.0; 95% CI 2.2-7.2; p<0.0001) while excluding possible exposure to proton pump inhibitors.


Hypochlorhydria is common in this patient population, with H. pylori being the dominant association. Only young HIV seronegative individuals had low prevalence of hypochlorhydria. This may have implications for risk of other health conditions including gastric cancer.