On February 16, 2019, UCI SON Dean Adey Nyamathi led the ASHA Nutrition research team from the US and India as they presented a Dissemination Workshop at the Indian Council of Medical Research in New Delhi, India. Dean Nyamathi is the lead Co-Principal Investigator (PI) on a recently-completed 5-year nutrition intervention trial for 600 women and 600 children living with HIV in rural India. Her collaborator in India, Dr. Sanjeev Sinha, was a Co-PI, along with Dr. Maria Ekstrand from UCSF. Dr. Sanghyuk Shin is the statistician for the trial.

This nurse-led study included a multidisciplinary team of health professionals who provided education and training to ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activists), lay village women who are trained in HIV. The ASHA then delivered a culturally-sensitive behavioral and nutritionally-based intervention to the study population of women living with HIV, with follow-up to 18 months. The research team included representatives from the disciplines of Nursing, Medicine, Psychology, Nutrition Science, Informatics and Child Development.

“The findings of the study have led to impressive improvement in immunity and nutritional markers and psychological well-being,” reports Dr. Nyamathi. “Furthermore, the children benefitted as well when the mother had improved health outcomes.” Dr. Shin adds, “We found that the low-cost ASHA-supported behavioral and nutritional intervention improved immunological and nutritional parameters and treatment adherence over time for rural women living with HIV in India, with gains sustained one year post-intervention,” said Dr Shin. “These health gains were significantly greater compared to treatment support alone.”

Under the leadership of Dean Nyamathi, the study team organized the ASHA Nutrition Dissemination Workshop to ensure that these important findings were presented to clinicians, researchers, government officials, and students in India. About 50 attendees were present to hear the latest findings from the ASHA Nutrition project.

The SON is committed to conducting innovative research with relevance for improving care for patients and communities both locally and globally. In addition to finding positive effects of nutrition enhancements on HIV outcomes in women in rural India, the ASHA Nutrition project has also led to important knowledge about stigma and social support that could significantly improve HIV care delivery for underserved rural women living with HIV and their children around the world. The research team has published a number of papers related to the findings of this study.

Some of the main publications from the study can be found in: