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Keywords:

  • AIDS;
  • developing countries;
  • HIV;
  • nursing;
  • nutrition counselling;
  • secondary data analysis

Aim.  This paper reports an investigation of the effectiveness of nutritional counselling as an intervention to improve health outcomes for HIV-positive patients in Ghana, West Africa.

Background.  In Ghana, like many developing countries, more patients with HIV and AIDS die because of their poor nutritional status than from the disease itself. With the lack of highly active anti-retroviral therapy for most HIV-infected patients in developing countries, nutritional counselling about high protein diet can be an essential intervention to reduce weight loss and improve weight gain and survival outcomes.

Method.  We used secondary-analytic data collected in summer 2003. Recorded monthly weights of HIV-positive patients were obtained and analysed for 25 people, whose ages ranged from 21 to 60 years, with a mean of 39·4 years (sd = 10·13).

Results.  HIV-positive patients responded favourably to nutritional counselling about protein dietary intake as an intervention to improve weight gain. Repeated measures showed a statistically significant weight gain (P = 0·008).

Conclusion.  In the absence of anti-retroviral therapy, high protein nutrition can be an effective intervention for HIV-positive patients in developing countries. The health and nutritional status of the patients can be improved through nutritious food, allowing them to lead longer and better quality lives.