Handbook: Developing and applying national guidelines on nutrition and HIV / AIDS.
Malnutrition and HIV/AIDS work in tandem, creating a vicious cycle. HIV compromises the immune system of infected persons, increasing their susceptibility to other infections, which can negatively affect nutritional status. Conversely, malnutrition increases the severity of the HIV disease by further weakening the immune system, which decreases the body’s ability to fight HIV and other infections. HIV and resulting opportunistic infections can lead to deterioration in nutritional status by increasing the need for nutrients and energy and by reducing appetite and absorption of nutrients. The effects of HIV on a person’s nutritional status can occur early in the course of the disease even when symptoms of the disease are not yet present. Unless the cycle is broken, the overall effect is a spiralling deterioration of immune function and clinical status that contributes directly to repeated morbidity and the eventual early death of the infected individual. Timely improvement in nutrition can help strengthen the immune system, prevent weight loss, and delay disease progression. (excerpt)