August 28, 2009
The University of Illinois' Chicago School of Public Health has received a three-year, $600,000 grant to educate AIDS patients about food safety. Scientists from the university noted that AIDS patients with severely compromised immune systems are at risk of developing life-threatening conditions from food-borne illnesses. Further, AIDS patients have low amounts of stomach acid, which is a primary barrier against germs, said Dr. Mark Dworkin, principal investigator and an associate professor of epidemiology. He said many AIDS patients are unaware of food safety guidelines addressing their condition, such as the recommendation that lunch meat -- which can harbor the pathogen listeria -- should be heated. Using the grant from the US Department of Agriculture, the team will interview 300 AIDS patients in Chicago, New Orleans and Bayamón, Puerto Rico, to develop better ways to communicate important food-safety information to those at risk.