WHO Aims At Improving Nutrition Among HIV-Positive People

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The World Health Organizationsoon will launch a campaign in South and Southeast Asia aimed at makingnutrition programs a central part of HIV/AIDS treatment in the region,Randa Saadeh, a scientist in WHO's Nutrition for Health and DevelopmentDepartment, said recently, Inter Press Servicereports. Saadeh was speaking at the end of a weeklong meeting inBangkok aimed at increasing support for the campaign and ensuring thatgovernments in the region have measures to implement program in placeby 2009.

According to Saadeh, this is the first time theregion has been targeted to improve nutrition as part of its effort tofight HIV/AIDS. "We want governments to adopt strong positions on thislink" between HIV/AIDS and nutrition "as a solution," she said. Thecampaign follows a similar WHO initiative in sub-Saharan Africa thatwas launched after the approval of a resolution that formallyrecognized the link between nutrition and HIV/AIDS at the 2006 WorldHealth Assembly in Geneva, Switzerland, Inter Press Service reports. The resolution called on governments to "make nutrition an integral part of their response to HIV/AIDS."

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Accordingto WHO, HIV-positive adults and children need 10% more energy thanHIV-negative people to maintain their weight. People who haveprogressed to advanced stages of the disease require 20% to 30% moreenergy, and HIV-positive children who are losing weight need 50% to100% more energy to maintain their weight, WHO said. In addition, thegrowth of HIV-positive children who do not have access to propernutrition is hindered and can lead to opportunistic infections that"place an additional demand" on children's energy and nutrient needs,according to WHO. HIV-positive people who are malnourished also are atan increased risk of malaria and other diseases, Nigel Rollins, aprofessor of maternal and child health at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa, said.

Studiesconducted among the estimated four million people living with HIV/AIDSin South and Southeast Asia in 2006 found that many people haddifficulty accessing proper nutrition. "High malnutrition rates persistin the region, and food is often identified as the most immediate andcritical need by people living with HIV and others affected by theepidemic," WHO said.

Prasada Rao, head of the Asia-Pacific division of UNAIDS,said that HIV-positive people taking antiretroviral drugs might beunable to handle the medication without proper nutrition. He added thatlow-income populations without proper nutrition also might sellantiretrovirals for money to purchase food. Current "nutrition policiesof governments" in the region "do not address the HIV/AIDS concerns,"Rao said, adding that HIV/AIDS and nutrition "have to be addressedtogether, as one" (Macan-Markar, Inter Press Service, 10/14).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyHIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . TheKaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service ofThe Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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