Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) continues to be a major global public health issue, having claimed more than 34 million lives so far. In 2014, 1.2 million people died from HIV-related causes globally. There were approximately 36.9 million people living with HIV at the end of 2014. In 2014 alone, 2 million people worldwide became newly infected with HIV. Sub-Saharan Africa is the most affected region, with 25.8 million HIV patients in 2014. Sub-Saharan Africa also accounts for almost 70% of the global total of new HIV infections (World Health Organization).
HIV infection is often diagnosed through rapid diagnostic tests, which detect the presence or absence of HIV antibodies. Most often these tests provide same-day test results, which are essential for same-day diagnosis and early treatment and care. It is estimated that currently only 54% of people with HIV know their status. In 2014, approximately 150 million children and adults in 129 low- and middle-income countries received HIV testing services (World Health Organization).
Current treatment involves the use of costly and highly toxic antiretroviral drugs that are largely insufficient and ineffective in meeting this challenge. This is because they are based on the singular theory that AIDS is caused by HIV, when it has been recognized that other factors, especially malnutrition or micronutrient deficiency, are intricately linked to the development of AIDS. Most importantly, antiretroviral drugs can further weaken the immune system and pose a potential risk for AIDS development.
Thus, specific micronutrient deficiencies are very common in patients with HIV or AIDS, constituting an important underlying factor for the acquirement of immune deficiency, specifically in people from developing countries on the African continent. Hence, a comprehensive approach utilizing nutritional intervention is required to successfully treat this deadly disease.