Diets and nutrition have critical effect on immune status of human immunodeficiency virus infection and acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS) patients and on recovery of immune competence after antiretroviral therapy (ART). A pilot study was conducted to explore associations between the dietary pattern of HIV/AIDS patients and their immune (CD4+ cell recovery) response following ART. A recall interview survey of dietary patterns (staple diets and consumption of dairy, other animal proteins, vegetables and fruits) and ART and CD4+ cell count record analysis was conducted on 92 participants visiting the Karamara hospital HIV/ART clinic between February and March, 2015. The staple diet of participants during ART comprised different cereal products and pulse stews. Dairy products, other animal proteins and vegetable/fruit diets were consumed by 88, 46.7 and 40.2% of the participants, respectively. CD4+ count increased more rapidly (p = 0.003) during the first 6 months of ART (144 ± 13.7 cells / mm3) compared to subsequent intervals (74±15.7 to 76.9±20.3 cells / mm3). ART CD4+ counts were consistently higher (p < 0.01) in participants having baseline values > 200 cells / mm3. CD4+ cell recoveries tend to be lower in participants aged > 40 years and in those interrupting ART (p < 0.05). Consumption of camel milk and fermented dairy was associated with relatively higher CD4+ cell recovery after 1 year on ART (p > 0.050). In particular, participants who take soured camel milk demonstrate CD4+ cell counts close to > 500 cell / mm3 after 1 year on ART. Long term CD4+ cell recovery was similarly improved (p = 0.051) in participants consuming fruit/vegetable diets. In contrast, consumption of other animal products had minimal impact on ART CD4+ cell count changes. Fermented or sour camel milk intake could enhance long-term ART immunological response. Deeper, systematic investigation is recommended to verify and establish potential ART-complimenting therapeutic benefits of camel dairy intake in HIV/AIDS patients.
Key words: Antiretroviral therapy (ART), camel, CD4+cell count, diets, HIV/AIDS, pastoralists.
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