Clients take away food on bi-weekly AMS food days
It is often easy to overlook nutrition when thinking of the topic of HIV/AIDS. Proper adherence to antiretroviral (ARV) medication is extremely important, and ARVs do not get absorbed into the bloodstream well without proper nutrition. This lessens the effectiveness of treatment, letting HIV weaken malnourished clients’ immune systems sometimes to the verge of death. Therefore, AMS emphasizes nutrition heavily, taking every measure to determine who is malnourished and ensure that they receive food through our food program.
Mohammed’s story reminds us of how essential proper nutrition is for HIV treatment, and of how easily HIV can thrive under a state of malnourishment. It also reminds us of the miracles that happen through AMS’s holistic care.
Mohammed is an AMS client who first came to AMS in 2007 when his CD4 count was only 13. The CD4 count is an indicator of immune system function, and in healthy people, the average CD4 count ranges from 500 to 1,500. Additionally, Mohammed only weighed 37 kg (81 pounds) when he first arrived at AMS. As evident by these numbers, HIV had taken advantage of Mohammed’s severe malnourishment, and had weakened his immune system to the point of near-death. He arrived at AMS right on time, and was put on food support immediately. Through the food that AMS gave him bi-weekly, Mohammed received proper nutrition and regained his health. Now, his CD4 count is 459 and his weight is 64 kg (141 pounds).
Over time, we have seen Mohammed become empowered and transform into a leader. Together with another client, he raised awareness about AMS in his faraway community of Kapeeka. Beginning with just 10 clients, the Kapeeka group of clients has slowly grown to exceed 300. By taking gardening courses at AMS, Mohammed then helped pioneer the Kapeeka gardening group, the largest income-generating gardening group at AMS. Members of this group produce fresh vegetables and fruits for themselves and to earn an income. Mohammed is a true AMS ambassador, also providing other HIV-positive people with a stigma-free space to disclose their status so that he can connect them to AMS.
“God knows what AMS is,” says Mohammed, “AMS was the one who let me be strong and live positively.”
We are grateful for being able to offer the essential component of nutrition as a central part of our holistic HIV care package. We are even more grateful for you, our donors, who have enabled us to continue providing these life-saving services for 10 years so far! This is only the beginning, and it is with you that we can help clients like Mohammed to regain health and dignity. For that, we are thankful and hopeful!
Mohammed, a AMS client who used to be malnourished
Mohammed (front) & Kapeeka gardeners with produce