Prescribing Improved Nutrition to Combat HIV/AIDS in Africa

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Everywhere I travel in Africa, there’s increasing acknowledgment about the importance of nutrition when it comes to treating HIV/AIDS.  Many retroviral and HIV/AIDS drugs don’t work if patients aren’t getting enough vitamins and nutrients in their diets or accumulating enough body fat.

According to Dr. Rosa Costa, regional coordinator of a project on the control of Newcastle disease in Mozambique, many farmers are often too sick to grow crops, but “chickens are easy.”

The International Rural Poultry Center of the Kyeema Foundation and the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics are working with farmers—most of them women—to raise chickens on their farms. Because women are often the primary caregivers for family members with HIV/AIDS, they need easy, low-cost sources of both food and income.

Unlike many crops, raising free-range birds can require few outside inputs and very little maintenance from farmers. Birds can forage for insects and eat kitchen scraps, instead of expensive grains. They provide not only meat and eggs for household use and income, but also pest control and manure for fertilizer.

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