Healthy diet plays vital role in living with HIV

The British Dietetic Association (BDA) is fully supporting World AIDS Day (1 December 2011), by highlighting the vital importance of good nutrition for those living with HIV and AIDS. 

The BDA also has a specialist group working in this field called Dietitians in HIV and AIDS (DHIVA).  
People living with HIV are living longer and healthier lives thanks to antiretroviral therapy which suppresses the virus. 

A balanced diet is important to maintain all aspects of good health including a strong immune system. Together, antiretrovirals and good nutrition are partners in helping people to feel better and manage their disease.

People living with HIV are more likely to develop high cholesterol, diabetes and osteoporosis, partly as a side effect of some of the antiretroviral medicines. 

As well as playing a role in helping the immune system function better, good nutrition can keep the gut healthy to enhance absorption of nutrients and drugs, and it can also help treat and prevent high cholesterol and body fat changes. Together, a balanced diet, activity and exercise can help maintain an ideal weight and reduce the risk for developing diseases such as diabetes and osteoporosis. 

Research has shown that regular assessment and advice from a dietitian prevents development of HIV-related high cholesterol.
Dietitians in HIV/AIDS (DHIVA), a group of the British Dietetic Association, provide medical nutrition therapy and specialist individually-tailored advice to help support people living with HIV to eat well and be healthy.

Registered Dietitian and Chair of the BDA group DHIVA, Alastair Duncan, said: “Nutritional interventions for those living with HIV are so important to help maintain a strong and healthy body.  I would strongly urge anyone who has been diagnosed with HIV to ask their treating doctor or nurse to refer them to a specialist Dietitian or to the excellent charity ‘The Food Chain’ if you live in London.”
The Food Chain is the only specialist charity in the UK that focuses on using nutrition to support people living with HIV, and their dependents. A range of practical services are available to support people who struggle to access appropriate nutrition. Services are delivered across London by over 900 volunteers and include providing tailored meals, groceries and cookery and nutrition classes. 

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