HIV-positive children who are registered for Anti- Retroviral Therapy at Sion Hospital, will get a special diet from June. This will help them respond well to the therapy.
Aids Relief International (ARI), a social initiative by students of Brown University in US, has tied up with Sion Hospital (also known as Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital) to launch a nutrition programme for HIV-positive children in the city.
“Most large organisations involved in AIDS relief initiatives are unable to focus on issues like nutrition, accessibility and infrastructure, the lack of which can impede treatment. We hope to establish a model to address that at a local level and then implement it in other places,” said Gaurie Tilak, student head of ARI, at a press conference, on Wednesday.
This is ARI’s first project in India, which aims to provide proper nutrition to 1,327 HIV-positive children registered at the hospital.
“Eighty per cent of the children undergoing the therapy are malnourished. This is because of constant infection and side effects of some medications. Therefore, it is important for them to have a proper diet for the therapy to be successful,” said Dr Mamta Manglani, paediatric HIV specialist, at Sion hospital.
Dr Sandhya Kamat, dean of the hospital, said such initiatives were essential in developing countries. “Medicines are not the only things HIV patients need. If HIV positive children are given proper nutrition, they may not need anti-retroviral therapy,” said Kamat.
The hospital also works with Sahas, a non-governmental organisation, to provide 100 HIV positive families with free pulses, rice and sugar.