HIV-control strategies in Kerala got a fillip with the Social Justice Directorate’s scheme in December 2008 to provide nutrition supplements to women and children living with HIV. Good nutrition is a vital component of HIV control and care strategies because malnourishment can worsen the effect of HIV and speed up the rapid progression of the infection to AIDS. A majority of people living with HIV/AIDS are from economically backward families and their nutrition status is poor. Those infected with HIV have a low immune status, which makes them extremely vulnerable to other infections.
Loss of appetite also often results in a severe loss of weight, contributing to their dangerof contracting diseases. This programme drawn up by the Social Justice Department provides nutrition support to such women and children. Initially 2,800 women and children, who are registered in Anti-Retroviral Therapy (ART) clinics and Link ART clinics run by the Kerala State AIDS Control Society (KSACS) are being provided nutritional supplements.
An estimated Rs. 49.6 lakh is being spent on the programme, which supplies a food mix in keeping with World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines. The nutritional mix is supplied by Kudumbasree units, thereby providing a source of income to the women in them. This pilot programme now focuses on women and children and the plan is to later scale it up to include all HIV-positive persons in the State.