‘Poor nutrition affects HIV treatment’
Precious Manomano Herald Reporter
There is need to implement nutritional interventions for people living with HIV to ensure the success of the treatment, Zimbabwe National Network of People living with HIV (ZNNP+) Mashonaland East Provincial chair Ms Moreni Masanzu has said.
Ms Masanzu said under-nutrition was associated with increased severity, worse treatment outcomes and increased mortality.
She said they are appealing to the Government and development partners to provide them with assistance to start businesses and cater for their financial and nutritional needs.
“Once people living with HIV can cater for their own nutritional and financial needs, Government’s burden is reduced to focusing on treatment.
“It is important to note that for people living with HIV to take their medication they consistently need to have a healthy diet. It is however, unfortunate that most people living with HIV do not have good nutrition to support their positive living mandate.
“Poor diet among people living with HIV is leading to defaulting because ARVs are heavy medications that need someone to eat well. Some end up not taking the medication because the sides effects of taking ART medicines on an empty stomach are painful,’ she said.
On the outskirts of Mvurwi town, a community garden started in 2015 with the help of National Aids Council and has over 75 households living positively. The garden has become a symbol of hope to these people who were reduced to begging due to ill-health. The members are sharing 3,5 hectares each, growing fruit and vegetables which they sell and also eat to improve nutritional needs.
Collective efforts from the Government and the private sector has resulted in significant strides in curbing HIV pandemic leading to a decline in deaths that are caused by the disease around the country. Zimbabwe has made great strides in the fight against HIV/AIDS as evidenced by its prevalence rate which has dropped from more than 15 percent to 11,9 percent. The prevalence rate in some districts such as Binga has dropped to as low as 5,3 percent.
The Aids mortality rate has dropped by almost 72 percent and more than one million people out of 1, 4 million are receiving lifesaving anti-retroviral therapy with improved quality of life and productivity as people live longer on treatment.
Zimbabwe has now achieved the 90-90-90 goal, that is 90 percent of people living with HIV know their status, 90 percent of those living with HIV are on effective treatment and 90 percent of those on treatment have seen their viral load suppressed so that they cannot pass through the virus and are extremely unlikely to die from Aids related illnesses.