Mother, Infant and Young Child Nutrition & Malnutrition Mother, Infant and Young Child Nutrition & Malnutrition - Feeding practices including micronutrient deficiencies prevention, control of wasting, stunting and underweight
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Nutrition in the Context of HIV/AIDS

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Home  »  Nutrition in the Context of HIV/AIDS  »  Nutrition for People Living with HIV/AIDS  »  The Cycle of Malnutrition and HIV/AIDS  »  Programmatic considerations on nutrition interventions for People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHA)

Nutrition for People Living with HIV/AIDS

The Cycle of Malnutrition and HIV/AIDS

Programmatic considerations on nutrition interventions for People Living With HIV/AIDS (PLWHA)

The HIV/AIDS epidemic is occurring in populations where malnutrition is already endemic.

Nutrition should be regarded as a fundamental part of the comprehensive packages of care and support for people living with HIV/AIDS. As an urgent priority, greater political, financial and technical support should be provided for improving dietary quality and increasing dietary intake to recommended levels.

Nutrition counselling, care and support interventions for PLWHA will vary according to nutritional status and the extent of disease progression. HIV-related infections, such as tuberculosis and persistent diarrhoea, not only have nutritional status as a significant determinant of their incidence and severity, but they also have severe nutritional consequences that commonly precipitate appetite loss, weight loss and wasting. Prompt diagnosis and treatment of these conditions, including use of antiretroviral treatment (ART) when indicated, can contribute to improved nutrition and health.

Improved understanding of nutrition-drug interactions is needed to inform HIV/AIDS treatment programs. Relevant recommendations should be made available to people living with HIV/AIDS in a timely manner so that they can adjust their diet based on informed decisions.

HIV-infected children are at highest risk of malnutrition and associated mortality. Addressing acute malnutrition in HIV-infected children is crucial for their survival. Pilot countries like Malawi and Uganda are using Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) for out-patient treatment of HIV-infected children with moderate acute malnutrition. The aim is to prevent deterioration of their nutritional status and to increase the effectiveness of ART. A linked study is currently being conducted to assess the impact and cost effectiveness of using RUTF for moderately malnourished children in the context of HIV/AIDS.

A short training video on the RUTF appetite test (following the WHO guidelines) is also available here.


Summary key points:
  • HIV affects nutrition by decreasing food consumption, absorption and causing changes in metabolism and HIV associated wasting.
  • Nutritional status also affects HIV disease progression and death.
  • Improving and maintaining good nutrition may prolong health and delay HIV disease progression. This need to start early in the course of the HIV infection, before other symptoms are observed.
  • Interventions to prevent and treat malnutrition can have a greater impact if started early in the course of the disease.

14 September, 2019

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