Alleviating Barriers to Art Adherence in Kenya through Evidenced-based Nutrition Education

Saturday, February 13, 2016
Kaitlyn Alpers, Saginaw Valley State University, Saginaw, MI
Sub-Sahara Africa remains affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic more than any other region in the world. As a hyperendemic in Kenya, AIDS accounts for 29% of adult deaths and 20% of maternal deaths. In addition to mortality, HIV/AIDS significantly affects numerous aspects of life in Kenya including workforce, family structure, gross domestic output, and healthcare costs. Despite federally-funded anti-retroviral therapy (ART), current literature demonstrates that inadequate nutrition is a barrier to ART adherence. This is a result of long-term food scarcity, widespread poverty, side effects of ART, and lack of education on nutrition. An adequate understanding of increased macro and micronutrient needs for HIV/AIDS patients on ART is likely to be instrumental in improving outcomes. Since poor food labeling laws and locally obtained foods prevent individuals from making educated food choices, a nutrition guide was produced based on a literature review of current research to evaluate the relationship between macro and micronutrient intake and HIV/AIDS progression. This review highlighted evidence-based nutritional components associated with improved patient outcomes, such as antioxidant supplementation and increased nutrient-dense foods in the diet. Travel to Kisumu, Kenya allowed for an evaluation of local food availability to develop a relevant nutrition guide. On location, caregivers and community members were also given lessons on nutrition and how to incorporate information from the nutrition guide into care plans. Completed guides have been provided to caregivers of Christs Hope International, an organization whose mission is eliminating HIV/AIDS in sub-Sahara Africa through home-based care. Changes to food supplementation delivered with ART to HIV/AIDS patients by these caregivers is being implemented based on the nutrition guide and accompanied lessons. A positive impact on the degree of ART adherence and patient outcome is expected as a result of improved diet. In the long term, projects such as this can contribute to amelioration of the effects of HIV/AIDS in Kenya.