Hunger takes toll on HIV kids

March 31, 2017

Seven-year-old Esther Agutti weighs 7kg – a third of the weight of the average child her age.
She has been in hospital in Katakwi, eastern Uganda, for three days.

She was painfully thin when she was admitted and had diarrhoea and was vomiting, said Loyce Akelo, a senior doctor.

Esther’s family, who are farmers, have been hit hard by the drought that has scorched East Africa.

They have had to ration the little food they have to survive – but this is particularly dangerous for Esther, who, like her parents, is HIV-positive.

Esther is receiving anti-retroviral (ARV) treatment – which slows the development of HIV and holds off its progression into Aids.

But crucial to the proper functioning of these drugs is good nutrition, doctors say.

“The hospital has received 232 children, more than half of all the children on HIV medication in the district. They lack food and have been malnourished since the start of this year,” Akelo said in Katakwi.