Nutrition and HIV/AIDS in infants and children in South Africa: implications for food-based dietary guidelines


Michael Hendricks, Child Health Unit, School of Child and Adolescent Health, 46 Sawkins Road, Rondebosch 7700, Cape Town, South Africa. E-mail:


The implications for food-based dietary guidelines (FBDGs) that are being developed in South Africa are reviewed in relation to HIV-exposed and -infected children. The nutritional consequences of HIV infection and nutritional requirements along with programmes and guidelines to address undernutrition and micronutrient deficiency in these children are also investigated. Based on studies for HIV-infected children in South Africa, more than 50% are underweight and stunted, while more than 60% have multiple micronutrient deficiencies. Nutritional problems in these children are currently addressed through the Prevention-of-Mother-to-Child Transmission Programme (PMTCT), the Integrated Nutrition Programme and Guidelines for the Management of HIV-infected Children which include antiretroviral (ARV) therapy in South Africa. Evaluations relating to the implementation of these programmes and guidelines have not been conducted nationally, although certain studies show that coverage of the PMTCT and the ARV therapy programmes was low. FBDGs for infants and young children could complement and strengthen the implementation of these programmes and guidelines. However, FBDGs must be in line with national and international guidelines and address key nutritional issues in these infants and young children. These issues and various recommendations are discussed in detail in this review.