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J Nutr. 2005 Apr;135(4):933-7.

Women's voices, women's choices: the challenge of nutrition and HIV/AIDS.

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  • 1SARA Project, Academy for Educational Development, Washington, DC, USA.


The Society for International Nutrition Research sponsored a Symposium titled "Women's Voices, Women's Choices: The Challenge of Nutrition and HIV/AIDS in Asia and Africa" at Experimental Biology 2004 to highlight the challenges facing HIV-positive women living in resource-poor settings of Asia and Africa, when it comes to the everyday decisions they are forced to make about their own health and nutrition, and the health and the nutrition of their children. This introductory paper summarizes the rationale for this session, including a summary of the evidence for women's increased vulnerability to HIV, the nutritional impacts of HIV infection, and the special infant feeding and nutritional concerns facing HIV-positive pregnant and lactating mothers in Africa and Asia. The issue of nutrition and HIV/AIDS is addressed here from an intergenerational perspective, using new data from qualitative research, clinical trials, and behavioral interventions in India, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe, to illustrate important concerns, using study participants' own words to convey key messages. The focus is on women, because they are shouldering much of the burden of HIV infection in terms of their numbers and in their responsibilities for providing food and care for orphans and HIV-affected family members. Infant feeding choices are also considered in this review, because of the vast implications that not breast-feeding at all and stopping breast-feeding early have on the nutritional well-being of HIV-exposed children, as well as the positive contribution of breast-feeding to child nutrition and survival worldwide.

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