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OK Guy
Dec 10, 2001

I recently bought a book on HIV Nutrition by some Drs from Harvard Medical school and Deaconess Hospital in Boston. I believe the book was published in 1996. I don't have it with me at the momement, or I would give you the title. Anyway, these Drs and nutrition experts say that all persons with HIV status need much more protein than other individuals w/o any specific health/medical problems. They state that the food pyramid recommended by the USDA is inappropriate for individual with HIV/AIDS. They stress an increased intake of proteins as soon as a person is informed of HIV diagnosis, among other changes from the traditional nutritional recommendations. Also, they state that one does not have to be concerned about cholesterol and fat intake. What is you opionion regarding this information? I was diagnosed with HIV in Feb. 2001, and have been trying to obtain as much information as possible to improve my nutrition and exercise needs. Thank you.

Response from Ms. Fields-Gardner

There are several things that have changed since 1996. First, we expect people receiving adequate treatment for HIV infection to have an extended life expectancy. Between a longer course of disease, getting older, and medication interactions, recommendations have changed a bit. While we had best intentions to make sure that fluids were maintained and replaced and weight losses were slowed or reversed to extend survival.

What may continue to be appropriate is the added protein need (although you should keep in mind that the average American diet is pretty high in protein already) without going to excess and an alteration in the pyramid to emphasize fruits and vegetables for the extra antioxidant boost. I wouldn't throw out the pyramid altogether (good concepts there), just maybe change the servings a bit.

You do need to be concerned about your fat intake, especially if there is a potential problem with it... such as high blood fats (triglycerides and cholesterol) or diarrhea due to fat. There are good sources for current nutrition recommendations. Keep in mind that as the disease process and other confounding medical conditions change (and as we learn more) that the recommendations are likely to change, too!


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