Ethiopian Health Professionals Association

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HIV and Nutrition

Posted on May 25, 2013 at 3:25 PM

A reader asks" Hiv vayres yalebet sew mndin memegeb alebet•" Translation into English would be

 "what type of food should a person with HIV eat ?"

Health professionals please provide information on nutrients that 

  • improve  overall quality of life by providing the body what it needs.
  • keep the  immune system stronger so it can better fight infection
  • help manage HIV symptoms and complications.
  • help medications and help manage their side effects

Categories: Healthy Diet, STD

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Reply LesRook
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Reply Admassu Mitiku
7:27 PM on June 9, 2013 
Greetings Dr. Bopgale,

Thank you Dr. Bogale for the detailed answer. Eggs and meat are known to be good sources of protein. If an HIV/AIDS patient is advised to increase his/her protein intake to boost his/her immune function, what is the reason behind that an HIV/AIDS patient is advised not eat raw eggs and raw meat? Is it just to avoid microbial infection or for some other reasons?

Admassu Mitiku (PhD)

Regarding the Nutritional needs for people with HIV/AIDS, there is no unique diet per se. But at the same time there are several differences/modifications needed from a regular diet habit.

1. Because of the disease and/or medications, there is a higher protein requirement. So increase good sources of protein foods such as lean meats, nuts and sea foods.

2. There is also an increased calorie requirement. So increase good sources of calories in addition to the protein mentioned. Also, increase calories by choosing more whole grain carbohydrates, good fat sources, oils, nuts etc.

3. Because of the risk to the immune system clean and safe food handling must be promoted. Do not eat raw eggs, raw meat etc. WASH fruits and vegetables very well.

4. Drink lots of fluids most importantly, water.

5. Again to support the immune system, the following should be developed as habit:

5.1. Relax and get enough sleep
5.2. Exercise regularly
5.3. Get micronutrient supplements (vitamin and mineral supplements).

Although there are many education resources on this issue, few are practical and easy to follow such, as the CDC and WHO documents.