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September 17, 2014

Malnutrition & HIV/AIDS

Our clients who live with HIV and AIDS have an especially difficult time staying properly nourished because of how the virus impacts their body’s ability to retain and properly metabolize certain nutrients.

Many people with HIV/AIDS are deficient in the following nutrients:
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • B6
  • B12
  • Riboflavin
  • Selenium
  • Zinc
  • Copper
Having prolonged nutrient deficiencies can cause problems with Coronary Artery Disease, Dyslipidemia (this can be high cholesterol, but may also be high triglycerides—high triglycerides when untreated lead to liver failure), insulin resistance (making diabetes more likely) and increase in overall inflammation, which makes heart disease in general more likely.

Malnutrition in HIV/AIDS clients comes in two forms: undernutrition and overnutrition. When a client is overnourished, they will generally be far over their ideal body weight for their height. Overnutrition causes a cascade of hormonal shifts that cause clients to be more susceptible to opportunistic infections.

Undernutrition can be evaluated by reviewing weight history over the past 4-6 months. A weight loss of as little as 5% of a person’s usual body weight makes them more at risk for a drop in their CD4 counts as well as increasing their risk for opportunistic infections.

These are just a few reasons why it is vital to our clients' health and lives that we focus on sending out healthy and balanced meals and provide opportunities for nutrition education.

Robin Brannon, MS, RD,CSO, Nutrition Services Manager

Robin Brannon is the Nutrition Services Manager at Food & Friends. Previously she spent three years as the Clinical Nutrition Manager at The George Washington University Hospital. She serves as the associate editor for Oncology Nutrition Connection, the peer-reviewed journal of the Oncology Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group. She also serves on the Chesapeake Food Leadership Council, The Dietetics Program Advisory Board at the University of the District of Columbia, and Patient Education Committee Member of the Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation. Robin earned a Masters in Clinical Nutrition from New York University, and a specialty certification in oncology nutrition from the Commission on Dietetic Registration. She received her Bachelor’s in Dietetics from College of the Ozarks.

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