Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS)
The HIV/AIDS virus damages the body's immune system. This causes increased vulnerability to all kinds of infections, including foodborne illness (food poisoning). Illness can strike with more frequency—and become more severe—when the immune system is weak from AIDS.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) explains, "Persons with AIDS are at higher risk for developing severe illness or dying from these illnesses. Three types of bacteria are of particular concern for persons with AIDS: Salmonella, Campylobacter jejuni, and Listeria monocytogenes."
About Salmonella, the most common cause of bacterial foodborne illness, the USDA says, "Salmonellosis can affect anyone, but occurs almost 100 times more frequently in persons with AIDS than in otherwise healthy persons. Furthermore, Salmonella infections, which occur in persons with AIDS, can be particularly difficult to treat and are more likely to lead to serious complications."
Protect Yourself from Foodborne Illness (Food Poisoning)
How can you protect yourself from foodborne illness if you have AIDS? Here are some tips from the USDA:
- Handle food safely at every stage from purchase through consumption. Critical points are transporting perishable foods home from the store immediately; prompt, safe storage; thorough cooking to destroy bacteria and other pathogens; and prompt refrigeration of leftovers.
- When shopping for raw and cooked perishable foods, be sure the food is being stored at a safe temperature in the store.
- Put refrigerated or frozen items in the shopping cart last. Immediately refrigerate or freeze perishable foods after transporting them home.
- When ordering food from the deli department, be sure the clerk washes his hands between handling raw and cooked items, or puts on new plastic gloves. Don't buy cooked ready-to-eat items which are touching raw items or are displayed in the same case.
- Don't purchase cans that are dented, leaking, or bulging; food in cracked glass jars; or food in torn packaging. Tamper-resistant safety seals should be intact.
- Observe "use-by" dates on foods you buy.
- Wash, utensils, can openers, cutting boards, and countertops in hot, soapy water before and after coming in contact with raw meat, poultry, or fish. Wash kitchen towels and cloths often in hot water in a washing machine. Wash hands with soap and warm water before and after handling food, and after using the bathroom, changing diapers, or handling pets.
- Use one cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood. Thoroughly wash them with hot, soapy water in between uses.
- Do not eat raw or undercooked meat, poultry, fish, or eggs. For people with AIDS, the most important thing is to use a food thermometer to be sure foods have reached a safe minimum internal temperature.
- Refrigerate leftovers promptly, and reheat them thoroughly.
For more tips on food safety if you have the HIV/AIDS virus, please see the USDA Fact Sheet, Food Safety for Persons with AIDS.