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OVCR Research Highlights

Health and Rehabilitation Sciences

Including Meat in Diets May Prove Beneficial to HIV-infected Rural Kenyan Women and Their Children.

HIV-infected Kenyan mother and child enjoy high nutrition biscuit daily.

HIV-infected Kenyan mother and child enjoy high nutrition biscuit daily.

Dr. Judith Ernst, Associate Professor of Nutrition & Dietetics in the Indiana University School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences, is the Lead Principal Investigator of the project titled “Increasing Animal Source Foods in Diets of HIV-infected Kenyan Women and Their Children”. The project, now in Phase III, is a randomized nutrition feeding intervention that evaluates the effect of protein quality and micronutrients in meat on the health and nutritional well-being of drug naïve women living with HIV in rural Kenya and the health and development of their vulnerable children. Isocaloric nutrition intervention biscuits that contain meat, soy, or wheat protein were developed in Phase I and then pilot tested in rural Kenyan women and young children in Phase II.

The study population of women receives medical care at the Turbo Rural Health Center, one of the rural clinics that have been established by the Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare (AMPATH) program in Kenya. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-AMPATH Partnership operates under the joint direction of Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital and the Moi University and Indiana University School of Medicine and cares for over 79,000 HIV-infected adults and children at 19 clinics in rural and urban areas in western Kenya.  About 50% of AMPATH patients do not yet receive treatment with antiretroviral drugs therapy and this nutrition intervention project is focused on this drug naïve group who are not yet experiencing the nutritional and metabolic challenges associated with advanced HIV infection (full blown AIDS).

Funding from the USAID Global Livestock Collaborative Research Support Program (GL-CRSP) has sourced this important project and has allowed the development and field testing of the nutrition intervention biscuits, the establishment of an infrastructure to successfully conduct a complex, controlled and randomized field nutrition trial with a highly stigmatized and ill population, and the field implementation of the Phase III trial through June 30, 2009. NIH funding supports the laboratory analyses completed in Kenya and abroad at the USDA; ARS Western Human Nutrition Research Center at the University of California at Davis; faculty oversight from Moi University, UCLA and Indiana University; data management, statistical analysis and administrative project management at Indiana University; AMPATH research office management at Moi University; consultation services related to nutrient intake, cognitive development and time allocation assessment (years 1 through 4); and feasibility assessment for local biscuit development in year 1. Sources for the additional funding for project field costs are ongoing. Included in the field costs are items for the participating families that will help to control opportunistic infections such as malaria, water-borne illnesses, and parasites. These include bio-sand water filters, mosquito nets and treatment for parasites every 3 months for all family members.

Co-Principal Investigators for this project include Dr. Grace Ettyang, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Epidemiology and Nutrition at Moi University School of Public Health; Dr. Charlotte Neumann, Professor of Community Health Sciences and Pediatrics at the University of California, Los Angeles Schools of Public Health and Medicine; Dr. Winstone Nyandiko, Senior Lecturer/Pediatrician in the Department of Child Health & Pediatrics at Moi University; Dr. Abraham Siika, Lecturer/Physician in the Department of Medicine at Moi University; and Dr. Constantin Yiannoutsos, Professor in the Department of Biostatistics at Indiana University School of Medicine.