10 September 2010
Prevention and treatment hog the limelight nine out of 10 times when there is talk about HIV/AIDS. Nutrition hardly gets a mention. However, it is as vital as the others. Once on medication, patients need strength as the medication is potent. At Milana, an NGO that provides support for families of people living with HIV, while counselling is their forte, there is an emphasis on nutrition education.
Members are made aware of the importance of a nutritious diet, "Almost 80% of the members comprise widows who also act as caretakers and mothers, who willingly sacrifice their balanced diet for their family," says Jyothi Kiran, project director, Milana.
During counselling, women are informed how they need to have a balanced diet to stay healthy. "They are given a choice to either stay healthy and be there for their children or compromise their health and jeopardise the future of their children," she says. Many are now aware that they need to stick around for their children.
With many from economically weaker backgrounds some ration is also distributed. However, Kiran mentions that with funds running low, currently only 11 families are being given rations. The price rise has affected them as well; currently these families get 1kg raagi, 1kg wheat, and depending on the price, tur dal either 1/2kg or quarter kg, 1/2kg groundnut, and 1/2kg jaggery.
A high protein mix that is a powdered mix made of roasted raagi, moong dal, groundnut, jaggery is also distributed. It serves as porridge and good breakfast option, or as Kiran says, "The powder can be mixed with oil and made into ladoos for kids to eat as well."
The support group is cued in to nutrition as seriously as treatment and is also a platform to share new recipes among women.
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