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The health of people living with HIV and AIDS (PLWHA) is nutritionally challenged in many nations of the world. The scourge has reduced socio-economic progress globally and more so in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) where its impact has been compounded by poverty and food insecurity. Good nutrition with proper drug use improves the quality of life for those infected but it is not known how PLWHA exposed to chronic malnutrition and food shortages from developing nations adjust their nutrition with use of Anti-Retro-viral Drugs (ARVs). This study assessed nutritional status, dietary practices, and dietary management of common illnesses that hinder daily food intake by the patients and use of ARVs with food recommendations provided by the health care givers. A descriptive case study design was used to sample 120 HIV-infected patients using systematic sampling procedure. These patients sought health care from an urban slum, Kibera AMREF clinic. Data were collected by anthropometric measurements, bio-chemical analysis, semi-structured questionnaire and secondary data. The Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) and the Nutri-Survey software packages were used to analyze data. Dietary intakes of micro-nutrients were inadequate for >70% of the patients when compared to the Recommended Daily Requirements. When Body Mass Indices (BMI) were used, only 6.7% of the respondents were underweight (BMI<18.5kg/m2) and 9.2% were overweight (BMI> 25kg/m2), serum albumin test results (mean 3.34+0.06g/dl) showed 60.8% of the respondents were protein deficient and this was confirmed by low dietary protein intakes. The BMI was not related to dietary nutrient intakes, serum albumin and CD4 cell counts (p>0.05). It appeared that there was no significant difference in BMI readings at different categories of CD4 cell count (p>0.05) suggesting that the level of immunity did not affect weight gain with ARV as observed in many studies from developed countries. Malnutrition was, therefore, evident among the 60.8% of the cases as identified by serum albumin tests and food intake was not adequate (68%) for the patients as they ate once a day due to lack of food. National food and nutrition policy should incorporate food security boosting guidelines for the poor people infected with HIV and using ARVs.
Keywords: Diet, Nutrition, HIV/AIDs, Serum albumin, CD4 cell counts