Southeast Asia: Nutrition Key to Surviving HIV/AIDS, WHO Says
October 11, 2007
At a recent seminar on malnutrition and HIV held in Bangkok, the World Health Organization's regional director for Southeast Asia said providing a balanced, nutritious diet where malnutrition is endemic is a major challenge to combating the region's HIV/AIDS epidemic.
"This HIV/AIDS epidemic is being superimposed on the already existing malnutrition problem," said Samlee Plianbangchang. "So if we want to make a difference, we should really deal with both challenges at the same time."
"HIV affects nutritional status, and poor nutrition in turn leads to faster progression of HIV to AIDS," Samlee told the health workers and experts gathered at the seminar. "Scaling up care and antiretroviral therapy cannot be addressed without appropriate support for nutrition."
An estimated 4 million people with HIV/AIDS live in the Southeast Asia region, which the UN defines as Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, South Korea, and Sri Lanka.
Evidence shows that people with HIV have higher energy needs than those who are HIV-negative. Ranga Saadeh, a scientist working for WHO's Geneva-based nutrition department, said asymptomatic adults or children with HIV need 10 percent more energy than their uninfected counterparts, while those at advanced stages of the disease need 20-30 percent more energy to maintain body weight.
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.