A 'Planting and Eating Soybean' Project for People Living With HIV/AIDS in Rural Anhui -- A Pilot Study in China

Rural Anhui, China, is marked by a large number of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs) who are poor and lack protein in their diet. The goal of the study project was to increase soybean protein in the diet of PLWHAs in this resource-limited setting.

Among PLWHA families in two villages in North Anhui, a community intervention was implemented providing soybean seeds and a series of training courses on nutrition, planting the crop and preparing soy food. Participants were encouraged to consume soy foods every day after harvest. A total of 47 PLWHAs were assessed, of which 60 percent were female, and 38 percent were illiterate. The annual average household income of the study population was 5,323 yuan (US $760).

In 2006, participants received 320.5 kg of soybean seeds. The harvest four months later was 3,465 kg.

In the past three months of the assessment, 94 percent consumed soy food at least three times per week and 96 percent ate 100 g each time. After eating soy food, 93 percent felt better; 86 percent reported less illness; 61.3 percent had higher total blood protein and blood white protein, 58.1 percent had higher blood hemoglobin, and 54.8 percent had higher CD4 count. All participants reported liking the project and hoping it continued.

Preliminary data suggest "that the pilot 'planting and eating soybean' project was effective and sustainable for PLWHAs living in resource-limited rural areas in Anhui, China," the researchers concluded.