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Protect the quality and safety of your food

Food can be contaminated with harmful bacteria and viruses (called germs), which produce poisonous toxins. A person eating this food may be infected by the germs and made sick from the toxins. Because HIV affects the immune system and the body's resistance to disease, people with HIV/AIDS are more vulnerable to germs and should be careful to avoid eating contaminated food. If they get food poisoning, they will lose weight and become even weaker, which will lower the body's resistance to future infection.

Most food poisoning can be prevented by following some basic rules of hygiene. Food hygiene measures have two aims: i) to prevent contamination in food preparation areas; and ii) to prevent germs from multiplying in food and reaching dangerous levels. The food safety and hygiene practices suggested below will achieve both these aims and ensure maximum protection from the risk of harmful germs.

Disposal of faeces

Many of the germs responsible for food poisoning are spread through faeces. Aim to:

Personal hygiene

Hygiene in the kitchen

Cooking and storage of food

Germs multiply more quickly in warm food. Storing food in a refrigerator or cool place slows down this growth. Cooking on a high heat can also kill most germs. Food should be eaten as soon as it is cooked.

Animal foods

However careful one is, food-borne infections may happen. The advice for diarrhoea in Chapter six will help, but when a person has serious food poisoning it is important to see a health worker without delay in order to avoid weight loss and further illness.

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