1.0 Background to the study.
Human Immuno Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) has become the greatest tragedy in many countries of the world. HIV/AIDS is the fourth biggest cause of death after heart disease, stroke, and acute respiratory disease (Bollinger and Stover, 1999). It is the greatest tragedy in many countries of the world. HIV/AIDS has defied all boundaries, infecting persons of all categories in its progression through the human society. This most dreaded, most feared and still most talked about disease is still a challenge to scientists until recently. HIV/AIDS is a public health and development crisis which affects not only the lives of individuals but also socio economic development of countries around the world. The millennium summit in 2000 laid the foundation for acknowledging that HIV/AIDS as a global crisis requiring global action.
The first reported case of HIV/AIDS was in 1980 which involved a young girl of 13 years at Lagos University Teaching Hospital. The subsequent trend in the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS led to Nigeria joining the international organization in the fight against HIV/AIDS. In 1998, the then health minister in Nigeria – Prof. Adeyenyi – launched the sexually transmitted infections programme and World AIDS Day. As part of that launch, he announced that 2.5 million people were HIV positive. More awareness of the reality of HIV/AIDS leads to creation of NACA in to coordinate the national response on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria. The co-ordination also lead to the formation of HIV/AIDS Emergency plan (HEAP) and NACA, (2005) stated that Nigeria has a truly comprehensive strategy for fighting AIDS to finish or at least for reducing its incidence and prevalence by 2.5% by 2007. The Obasanjo administration hosted the special Africa summit of HIV/AIDS. Tuberculosis and other related infection. The heads of member countries at that summit gave their pledge to allocate more funds to fight HIV/AIDS pandemic. Another key result of that summit was the decision of Nigeria government to start subsidized anti-retroviral therapy at a time no other government in Africa was doing so (NACA, 2005).
Pivot, (2001) stated that unlike other disaster situations, where concerted action may be required for a short time, commitment to HIV/AIDS programmes will require a well-articulated multidisciplinary approach. This approach will surely lead to prolonged and better quality of life for the infected persons. At present, AIDS programmes are being starved of funds worldwide and if the trends continue, millions of people may die for basically lack of adequate care. Most people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHIV/AIDS) die more because of stigma, malnutrition and poor health than the disease itself. Kaloeba, (2005) also considers stigma to be more Lethal than virus. Stigma and discrimination against PLWHA compound the negative effects of HIV/AIDS and make management more challenging. The people feel unhappy, tend to be violent and quarrelsome, feel defected and rejected, fear associating with other people and even being harassed by family members (Action Aid, 2005).
Food remains number one natural ‘drug’ for the healthy and the sick. People living with HIV/AIDS are no exception and their needs remain our task. There has been commitment to fight this pandemic. This must include the natural ammunition which is “food.” This will affirm that the approach and attitude towards HIV/AIDS intervention is complete. Good nutrition means eating foods that supply the body with all the nutrients. The relationship between HIV/AIDS and poor nutrition is cyclical (UNICEF, 2001).Matemiola, (2004) opined that the people living with HIV/AIDS have need for nutritional care because their body metabolism operates at a higher rate, demanding higher inputs. HIV is known to destroy various vital cells in the body, which are important in the maintenance of immunity. The body reacts by increased production of such cells in an attempt to diminish their rate of attrition. These results to increased metabolic rate and an increased demand for substrates that is required for the cellular activities (Dlamin, 2001). For proper care, there is need to get information on the PLWHIV/AIDS’s nutritional status and how far they are cared for. The thrust of this study is to determine the nutritional status, care and support of people living with HIV/AIDS in Nsukka LGA. The need for the victims to embark on higher intake of food including that of macro and micronutrients can never be overemphasized.
1.1 Statement of the problem.
One of the very important adjuncts to management of infected person is the maintenance of an adequate nutrition and exercise which promotes healthy living and balanced growth (Matemiola, 2004). UNICEF, (2001) observed that good nutrition means different things at various stages of HIV infection. Adequate nutrition prolongs life expectancy with corresponding reduction in early demise of men and women due to resultant stigma, malnutrition and poor care of their victims.
Assessment of nutritional status, care and support have not been studied and integrated into the Nsukka LGA AIDS programme despite the incidence at 3.1% among adults in Nigeria (UNICEF, 2008). The need to carry out a study of this kind in order to know how to help PLWHIV/AIDS better can never be overemphasized. Only a health facility in the L.G.A offered comprehensive HIV/AIDS care service programme (counseling, patient education, adherence support, monitoring and management of toxicities (Onodingene, 2007). This study is of special interest to me because my continued care for PLWHIV/AIDS has constantly revealed that food is the greatest challenge to them.
1.2 Objectives of the study;
1 to assess the nutrition knowledge of the respondents.
2 to determine the health characteristics of PLWHIV/AIDS.
3 to determine the food consumption pattern of the PLWHIIV/AIDS.
4 to determine the composition of foods as consumed by the PLWHIV/AIDS.
5 to determine the anthropometric status of the respondents.
6 to assess the management strategies of the PLWHIV/AIDS by relations.
1.3 Significance of the study.
By carrying out the study, it is hoped that knowledge of the researcher will be enriched in the area and finally reveal if there are malnourished PLWHIV/AIDS. The work will serve as a reference material to other students that may be working on HIV particularly in connection with nutrition. In addition, this study will help in providing information on the difficulties encountered by these victims as they struggle to belong in a world of stigmatization and discrimination.
The PLWHIV/AIDS in Nsukka L.G.A will benefit greatly from the interactions of the researcher research assistants and the findings of this study. All the health workers who had the opportunity of participating in this study will also find this material enriching and very useful as a guide in their course of managing the PLWHIV/AIDS, people affected by AIDS (PABA) will also get rewarding information on HIV/AIDS from this study.