ASSESSMENT OF DIETARY PATTERN AND NUTRITIONAL STATUS OF PEOPLE LIVING WITH HIV/AIDS ATTENDING SOME VOLUNTARY AND COUNSELLING TEST (VCT) UNITS
This study assessed the dietary pattern and nutritional status of People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) attending some voluntary and counseling test units in Kaduna metropolis.The studied subjects consisted of 74 adult patients infected with HIV between the ages of 18 and 60 years and 74 age-and-sexed-matched apparently healthy volunteers who were HIV negative as control group.A semi-structured questionnaire was used to collect information on the socio-economic and demographic characteristics of the subjects. Dietary diversity of the subjects and control were assessed using food frequency questionnaire. Blood serum total protein, total cholesterol, HDL and LDL cholesterol were determined spectrophotometrically while serum zinc and iron were measured using Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer. Result obtained shows that majority of patients (39.19%) were between 26 and 33years. A sizeable percentages of patients (33.78%) and control (52.7%) were overweight (BMI ≥ 25.00kg/m2), while some patients (25.68%) and control (37.93%) were under weight (BMI < 18.49kg/m2).
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, popularly known as AIDS, is caused by the virus, Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV). This is a tiny germ that is invisible to the eye that attacks the immune system of the body. AIDS is a condition in which the virus damages the body immune system and renders it helpless against any infection, (Hawkes et al., 2002). According to the World Health Organization (2005), AIDS is the most dreaded, most feared and the most talked about disease in the world today.It is a deadly disease that has no cure. According to Ojedokun (2004), there are two main sub types: HIV I and HIV II. HIV I is the most common type all over the world while HIV II is only common in West Africa. The intensity and the pattern with which HIV/AIDS affects nutritional status are very much different from that in other infections and in ordinary case of inadequate nutrients intake (Piwoz and Preble, 2000). Due to lack of cure for HIV/AIDS, the immune system of infected patients is under constant exposure to infections which adversely affect the nutritional status and immune competence of the subjects in question (Piwoz and Preble, 2000).
Malnutrition is a serious danger for people living with HIV/AIDS. Even at the early stages of HIV infection when no symptoms are apparent, HIV makes demands on the body‘s nutritional status (Walsh et al., 2003),the risk of malnutrition increases significantly during the course of the infection. Good nutrition cannot cure AIDS or prevent HIV infection, but it can help to maintain and improve the nutritional status of a person with HIV/AIDS and delay the progression from HIV to AIDS-related diseases (Piwoz and Preble, 2000). It can therefore improve the quality of life of people living with HIV/AIDS. Nutritional care and support are important from the early stages of the infection to prevent the development of nutritional deficiencies. A healthy and balanced diet will help to maintain body weight and fitness.