Good nutrition in HIV/AIDS is important as it helps to:

  • Prevent malnutrition and wasting
  • Delay the progress of HIV to AIDS
  • Enhance the body’s ability to fight opportunistic infections
  • Achieve and maintain optimal body weight and strength
  • Relieve complications, e.g., diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, thrush
  • Improve effectiveness and tolerance of medication
  • Improve quality of life

Severe malnutrition is diagnosed when:

  • BMI <16 kg/m2
  • Weight loss >10% in past 2 months
  • MUAC <185 mm (<210 mm if pregnant or postpartum)
  • Persistent diarrhoea or fever


If patient has other complications

  • Admit patient and treat infections and rehydrate

If patient has no other medical complications

  • Treat as an outpatient
  • Promote weight gain with high-energy foods, protein, vitamins and minerals
  • If ready-to-use therapeutic food is available, give 3 sachets per day in adults, in addition to
    normal food
    * See next section for malnutrition in children
  • Supplement the patient’s diet with multivitamins and minerals, 1-2 tablets per day
  • Follow up in 2 weeks, at 1 month, then every 2 months thereafter