Wild food plants used by people living with HIV/AIDS in Nakisunga sub-county, Uganda
The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) has a devastating impact on the victims’ health, nutrition and food security. The prevalence of HIV/AIDS and other opportunistic infections calls for research into natural products to find solutions to this pandemic. This involves exploration of the readily available wild food plant species (WIFPs) and promotion of their consumption especially among the vulnerable and marginalised groups of people. In Nakisunga sub-county, WIFPs are consumed by people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) because of their presumed nutrition and health benefits. Despite exploitation of WIFPs by PLWHA, there have been no empirical studies to document the indigenous knowledge on WIFPs' usage in Nakisunga sub-county. This study aimed at providing information regarding the consumption of WIFPs by PLWHA in Nakisunga sub-county because of their presumed nutritional and health benefits. An ethnobotanical survey was conducted in which 60 semi-structured questionnaires were administered. A snowball sampling approach was used to identify other PLWHA in their respective villages since these people always met on clinic days and knew where each of them resided. Individual interviews were supplemented with direct observations and 3 Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) guided by a checklist of questions. Eighty-four WIFPs from 66 genera and 41 families were identified. Priority species were Abrus precatorius L., Amaranthus spinosus L., Physalis angulata L., Hibiscus sabdariffa L. and Solanum nigrum L. Fifty-six WIFPs were used as food only and 28 species served as food and medicine. The majority (43%) of WIFPs were herbaceous and mainly collected from the wild (75%). The most frequently consumed plant parts were the fruits (34%) and leaves (33%). These were consumed as snacks (23%) and vegetables (24%), respectively. Boiling (37%) was the commonest method of preparation used. Documentation of this indigenous knowledge on WIFPs’ consumption by PLWHA will help promote them for wider usage and initiate scientific validation of their nutrient quality. In conclusion, there is a diversity of WIFPs in this area which are being added to the diets of PLWHA because of their presumed nutritional significance. These species need to be taken further for scientific validation of their nutrient quality and conservation measures devised for their sustainable production.
Key words: PLWHA, Wild food plants, Consumption, Documentation, Nutrition, Dietary diversity
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