To manage HIV, doctors prescribe many different kinds of antiretroviral drugs, but they all have something in common: extremely severe, life-altering potential side effects. People can feel nauseated, weak, depressed, develop ulcers, or experience a host of other unpleasant symptoms. The alternative, however, is not taking the medication – letting the HIV run wild, degrading the body and ultimately claiming another victim’s life.
To mitigate the side effects and to ensure effectiveness, patients must take their medications exactly as their doctor has prescribed. For all regimens, getting adequate nutrition for the body is crucial. For HIV-positive people in Malealea, that can be easier said than done.
There are about 530 HIV-positive people living in the 21 villages we at the MDT look after. All 530 of these patients are eligible to collect three bags of E’pap per month from our office. E’pap is an instant porridge that requires no heat for preparation. The powder simply needs to be combined with water or milk and it is ready. Each bag is 500 grams, and a serving is 50 grams, so each person receives 30 servings per month. This is about one serving per day, and each serving is about 740 calories. This amounts to be a significant portion of their daily caloric need.
Of the 530 eligible recipients, 32 are aged 17 or younger. The average age is 42.
Each month, about 300 of the eligible recipients come to collect their E’pap. Many people leave Malealea to work and cannot come to collect that month. Our standard distribution day is every Tuesday, but someone is in our office every single day of the week for people who cannot make it on Tuesdays.
This E’pap, calorically dense and simple to prepare, reduces a great strain on the lives of our HIV-positive community members. It protects them from the medication that protects them from their condition.
- Any donation of funds can help support the cost of this program and keep another person well fed, healthy, happy, and productive