1.0 Background to the study.
Human Immuno Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) has become the greatest tragedy in many countries of the world. HIV/AIDS is the fourth biggest cause of death after heart disease, stroke, and acute respiratory disease (Bollinger and Stover, 1999). It is the greatest tragedy in many countries of the world. HIV/AIDS has defied all boundaries, infecting persons of all categories in its progression through the human society. This most dreaded, most feared and still most talked about disease is still a challenge to scientists until recently. HIV/AIDS is a public health and development crisis which affects not only the lives of individuals but also socio economic development of countries around the world. The millennium summit in 2000 laid the foundation for acknowledging that HIV/AIDS as a global crisis requiring global action.
The first reported case of HIV/AIDS was in 1980 which involved a young girl of 13 years at Lagos University Teaching Hospital. The subsequent trend in the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS led to Nigeria joining the international organization in the fight against HIV/AIDS. In 1998, the then health minister in Nigeria – Prof. Adeyenyi – launched the sexually transmitted infections programme and World AIDS Day. As part of that launch, he announced that 2.5 million people were HIV positive. More awareness of the reality of HIV/AIDS leads to creation of NACA in to coordinate the national response on HIV/AIDS in Nigeria. The co-ordination also lead to the formation of HIV/AIDS Emergency plan (HEAP) and NACA, (2005) stated that Nigeria has a truly comprehensive strategy for fighting AIDS to finish or at least for reducing its incidence and prevalence by 2.5% by 2007. The Obasanjo administration hosted the special Africa summit of HIV/AIDS. Tuberculosis and other related infection. The heads of member countries at that summit gave their pledge to allocate more funds to fight HIV/AIDS pandemic. Another key result of that summit was the decision of Nigeria government to start subsidized anti-retroviral therapy at a time no other government in Africa was doing so (NACA, 2005).
Pivot, (2001) stated that unlike other disaster situations, where concerted action may be required for a short time, commitment to HIV/AIDS programmes will require a well-articulated multidisciplinary approach. This approach will surely lead to prolonged and better quality of life for the infected persons. At present, AIDS programmes are being starved of funds worldwide and if the trends continue, millions of people may die for basically lack of adequate care. Most people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHIV/AIDS) die more because of stigma, malnutrition and poor health than the disease itself. Kaloeba, (2005) also considers stigma to be more Lethal than virus. Stigma and discrimination against PLWHA compound the negative effects of HIV/AIDS and make management more challenging. The people feel unhappy, tend to be violent and quarrelsome, feel defected and rejected, fear associating with other people and even being harassed by family members (Action Aid, 2005).
Food remains number one natural ‘drug’ for the healthy and the sick. People living with HIV/AIDS are no exception and their needs remain our task. There has been commitment to fight this pandemic. This must include the natural ammunition which is “food.” This will affirm that the approach and attitude towards HIV/AIDS intervention is complete. Good nutrition means eating foods that supply the body with all the nutrients. The relationship between HIV/AIDS and poor nutrition is cyclical (UNICEF, 2001).Matemiola, (2004) opined that the people living with HIV/AIDS have need for nutritional care because their body metabolism operates at a higher rate, demanding higher inputs. HIV is known to destroy various vital cells in the body, which are important in the maintenance of immunity. The body reacts by increased production of such cells in an attempt to diminish their rate of attrition. These results to increased metabolic rate and an increased demand for substrates that is required for the cellular activities (Dlamin, 2001). For proper care, there is need to get information on the PLWHIV/AIDS’s nutritional status and how far they are cared for. The thrust of this study is to determine the nutritional status, care and support of people living with HIV/AIDS in Nsukka LGA. The need for the victims to embark on higher intake of food including that of macro and micronutrients can never be overemphasized.