Script 65.7

Notes to broadcasters

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People living with HIV/AIDS need to be encouraged to eat enough of the right kinds of foods every day. Radio broadcasters can help by offering up-to-date information about diets and nutrition, and a place to talk with doctors, nurses and other medical professionals on this subject. The background information below provides some guidelines for a healthy diet for people living with HIV/AIDS. It can be used to prepare dramas or as background research for interviews about nutrition and HIV/AIDS with health professionals.

The background information can also be used to produce public service announcements or promos (sometimes called spots). Public service announcements are brief messages intended to promote an event or raise awareness about an important issue. These recorded messages are often relatively short – anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes – and are repeated at various times throughout the program day, sometimes for days or weeks at a time. They can also serve as a useful break between regular programs. PSAs can be presented in a variety of different formats.

The background guidelines are followed by two short stories that serve as examples of the kinds of dramatized programs you can produce about nutrition and HIV/AIDS.

Background information for radio PSAs on HIV/AIDS and nutrition

(Source: Adapted from Nutrition, HIV and AIDS: a handbook for Pacific Island health workers, 1999.)

It is very important for people with HIV/AIDS to maintain a healthy body and immune system for as long as possible. It is vital to nourish the body with a well-balanced, nutritious diet. A good diet includes at least some food every day from the following three food groups:

  1. Foods for body building
  2. Foods for protection
  3. Foods for energy

Foods for body building are meat, fish, milk products and legumes. These foods help to repair tissues. Fruits and vegetables provide important nutrients for the body’s protection. And staple foods provide energy. It is important to help people living with HIV/AIDS choose their food so that they have enough of the main food groups. One serving is about the amount that would cover the palm of your hand.

Foods for energy (starch, carbohydrates and fibre)

5 servings a day

  • Maize, rice, millet, sorghum, porridge, flour, pasta
  • Root crops of all kinds such as yams, cassava, sweet potato, taro
  • Starchy fruits such as banana, plantain, breadfruit and sago palm

Foods for body building (protein and minerals)

3 servings a day

  • All kinds of meat, including chicken, pork, beef, birds, lizards
  • All kinds of sea and river foods – fish, shellfish, sea slugs, and others
  • All kinds of eggs
  • Milk
  • Cheese (all kinds) and yoghurt
  • Fresh and dried peas, beans, groundnuts, dhal, tree nuts

Foods for protection (vitamins, minerals and fibre)

5 servings a day

  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Yellow and orange vegetables – pumpkins, carrots, sweet potato
  • Fresh fruits: yellow and orange coloured fruits such as bananas, mangoes, and papaya have the most nutrients
  • Green and yellow vegetables are a good source of Vitamin A which plays an important role in keeping the immune system healthy
  • Citrus fruits and tomatoes are good sources of Vitamin C which is also important for keeping the immune system healthy

Refined sugar should only be used in small amounts. All kinds of sugar and sweets, sweet biscuits, cakes, chocolate, sweet drinks and any foods containing a lot of sugar should only be eaten in small amounts because they may be replacing healthy foods.

Fats and oils should only be used in small amounts unless the person needs to gain a substantial amount of weight. Vegetable oils are preferred over animal fats. Fats and oils include:

  • Butter, margarine, cooking oils

Many foods are high in fats and oils including coconut cream, fatty meats, and takeaway foods such as chips, pizza, fatty and fried foods.


Water is very important for the proper functioning of the body, for growth and good health. Healthy drinks will keep the body hydrated and working well. People with HIV/AIDS need about 9 cups of liquid every day. If it’s very hot or a person is doing a lot of exercise they will need another 3 cups of liquids. If a person has diarrhea he or she will need to drink even more. Drinking should be encouraged between meals as too much liquid with meals can spoil the appetite. The water should be clean. If no clean water is available, boil it for at least 5 minutes to kill most germs.

Healthy drinks include:

  • Water or green coconut water
  • Vegetable and fruit juices
  • Milk and soya milk drinks


Story #1: Food is medicine


People living with HIV/AIDS can benefit from a healthy diet. Here, Susan learns about the most nutritious foods to serve to her sick relative, Fifi.





Susan:Eleena, why are you crying? What’s wrong?

(sobbing) Oh, Susan, I’ve been looking everywhere for you. Joshua and I have just learned that Fifi is living with HIV/AIDS. (crying)

There, there now. Try and calm yourself. This is very sad. But it doesn’t mean that Fifi’s life is over.

I know. But she has nowhere to go, so she will probably come to stay with us. How will I ever take care of her?

I’ll tell you something that I’ve learned from years of caring for sick relatives. There are a couple of things you can do. The most important thing you can give Fifi is love and support in her journey. I know you can give her that. And there’s another way to help her stay healthy and strong for a long time.


Yes. Make sure that she eats properly. You know, food is like medicine when you’re caring for someone living with HIV/AIDS. To start, a person must eat from three main food groups every day.

Okay, I think I heard about those three food groups. Um… I think one is ‘energy foods’. I mean foods like maize and rice and yams.

Yes. That’s one type of food that Fifi must eat every day. Energy foods. She should also eat foods that build or maintain muscle, such as meat, milk, beans or eggs.

Foods that build muscle. Hmmmm. And what is the third food group?

The third group is foods for protection.

I don’t know what those are.

Foods for protection are green leafy vegetables, yellow and orange vegetables and fresh fruits.

I hope I can remember all this.

You also have to remember to prepare foods in safe conditions, using proper hygiene to prevent infection.

Can you repeat the different kinds of foods again?

Keep this in your mind – three kinds of foods. Foods for body building, foods for energy, and foods for protection. With these three kinds of foods every day, Fifi can stay stronger and feel better.



Children and adults living with HIV/AIDS can stay healthier and live longer by eating different kinds of foods every day. And by drinking plenty of clean water. Remember, food is medicine!

– END –

Story #2: People living with HIV/AIDS should eat whole foods

Welcome to the program, “Nutrition Today.” I’m your host, (name of host) . Today we are going to talk about the special dietary needs of people living with HIV/AIDS. My guest is Frances Lane, a doctor at the Care Centre, an organization run by and for people with HIV. Welcome to the program Frances.

Thank you. It’s good to be here.

Doctor, I’ve heard that people who have HIV/AIDS can live longer and stay healthier if they eat properly. Is this true?

Well, of course, eating a healthy, well-balanced diet is important for everyone. But it is even more crucial for people with HIV because good nutrition really can improve a person’s quality of life.

So, what guidance do you give to people who come to the Care Centre?

We recommend eating several different kinds of foods every day. For example people should eat some protein foods like meat or eggs, and cereals like rice or maize, and fruits and vegetables every day! Also, they should drink a lot of water.

Okay. But what if listeners don’t have access to clean water?

In that case they must purify or boil the water for at least five minutes before they drink it.

Is there anything else?

Well yes. We recommend that people eatunprocessedfoods.

What do you mean by unprocessed foods?

Well, for instance, if you eat rice, it should be unpolished, brown rice. If you eat maize meal, then it should be stone ground meal. If you eat bread, it should be whole wheat bread.

Okay. And what about vitamin supplements?

Your doctor may also recommend certain vitamins and mineral supplements. Vitamins such as the B vitamins, vitamin C, E, A, and the mineral zinc will help your body to function well and resist infection.

Well, we’ve covered a lot of ground in a short time. I’m sure this will be helpful to our listeners. Thanks for coming and talking to us.

My pleasure.


If you are a person living with HIV/AIDS, you can stay healthier and live longer by eating wholesome foods. Choose unprocessed foods when possible. Eat a variety of foods. And drink plenty of clean water. Let food be your medicine!


Contributed by Adiat Junaid, Toronto, Canada and Jennifer Pittet, Thornbury, Canada.

Reviewed by Reviewed by Hélène Delisle, Department of Nutrition, University of Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Information Sources

Nutrition, HIV and AIDS: a handbook for Pacific Island health workers, 1999. HIV/AIDS & STD Project, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, BP D5, 98848 Noumea Cedex, New Caledonia. Fax: +687 26 38,

Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange (CATIE), 555 Richmond St. West, Suite 505, Toronto, Canada M5V 3B1. E-mail: