Nutrition and Water Purification
Adequate nutrition is essential for everyone’s health. But for those affected by HIV, nutrition can be a matter of life or death. Under-nutrition both results from and contributes to HIV progression: the virus changes the body’s metabolism, impairs nutritional intake, and leads to weight loss, while deficiencies in nutrition increase HIV replication and viral load, the malabsorption of anti-retroviral therapy, and susceptibility to opportunistic infections. By worsening the outcomes of HIV, poor nutrition can contribute to a faster progression of the virus, and as a result, an increased risk of mortality.
Recognizing the critical role nutrition plays for HIV-positive individuals, AMS has integrated nutritional services into the treatment plan since the clinic’s launch in 2007. We assess our clients at every appointment, using the mid-upper arm circumference and body mass index measurements, along with z-scores for paediatric patients. If a client is malnourished, we enrol them in our Food Program, where they receive 7 kilograms of rice, 7 kilograms of beans, and 1 kilogram of sugar twice a month. Over 1,500 clients are currently taking advantage of this food program, which has a duration of approximately six months for each client enrolled.
Throughout that time, we engage clients in income-generating activities, ensuring they do not become dependent on food distributions. In addition, we educate clients on proper nutrition and cooking methods during Food Days, helping to boost clients’ understanding of healthy eating.
Infant and Health Care
As part of our pre- and post-natal care programs, AMS provides nutritional counselling to all expecting and breastfeeding mothers. Infant and child growth and nutrition are monitored from birth, and infant feeding counselling is given to mothers whose children are undernourished. Regular infant and child check-ins ensure that the well-being of our young patients is prioritized.
Through a partnership with Procter & Gamble, AMS has helped over 7,200 families access safe drinking water. With an average of nine families benefitting from each “safe water kit,” we estimate that nearly 55,000 individuals are reached every month. We also hold water purification demonstrations once a week, where we discuss the importance of drinking safe water, and the effects unsafe water can have on an HIV-positive individual’s immune system.