HIV is sometimes referred to as a disease of the gut because of the voracity with which it attacks a victim's gastrointestinal tract. As researchers look at ways to limit the disease's affect on the body, a simple, stomach soothing solution came to mind: yogurt. More precisely, yogurt infused with friendly bacteria. Scientist Gregor Reid joins The Takeaway to talk about his work with HIV patients in Africa. There, in Tanzania, he has helped teach a group of "yogurt mamas" how they might serve up disease protection one cup at a time.
For more information, head to the pilot yogurt program's website, Western Heads East. Read more about the group, as well as other probiotic research, by checking out the article, A cultured response to HIV, in the June 2009 issue of the journal Nature Medicine.
Photos from Gregor Reid's trip:
Gregor Reid writes in to expand on his explanation of the program:
It was nice to be on the show. I do need to further clarify one important point - the probiotic yogurt made by the Yogurt Mamas in Mwanza, Tanzania, reaches around 350 people at present and is not a protection from HIV/AIDS. It provides nutrition as well as some relief from the symptoms and signs associated with the disease. People who are on anti-retroviral therapy are told to remain on the therapy even if they take the yogurt. The Mwanza project is run by the local Tanzanian community and Western Heads East, a volunteer organization at The University of Western Ontario. The World Bank Grant is held by my colleague Dr. Isaac Luginaah and is to set up another kitchen in Kenya.
— Gregor Reid