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[Lexington, Kentucky] -- Finding a way to address selenium deficiency may be especially important for people with HIV/AIDS; and recently a delegation from Alltech visited southern Africa to investigate how the company's organoselenium product, Sel-Plex, might be used in the fight against HIV. The team, which included photographer Jason Heck, former nurse Liz Frank, and Alltech's Director of Nutrition Dr. Kate Jacques, met with clinicians and others involved in both governmental and non-governmental organizations in South Africa and Zambia that partake in the care and treatment of people with HIV.
The countries of sub-Saharan Africa are at the epicenter of the global HIV/AIDS pandemic. At the end of 2005, it was estimated that 38.6 million people around the world were living with HIV, two thirds of which live in southern Africa. Oxidative stress and low selenium status have been associated with HIV replication and more rapid disease progression, which suggests that selenium supplementation would be important in the nutrition of those with HIV, however finding a way to get selenium to those that might need it is not that easy.
Adding Sel-Plex organoselenium to production animal diets increases selenium content of meat, milk and eggs; and under conditions found in most of the developed world this proves a useful means of improving human selenium intake. However in sub-Saharan Africa, a part of the world with widespread selenium deficiency, food animal products are not a major part of the diet for much of the population and protein-energy malnutrition is all too common. The primary dietary staple is corn meal, and very few sources are available that include even nominal amounts of selenium.
While government-supported fortification of corn meal must await political will, those working most closely with patients were clearly interested in getting Sel-Plex selenium into people being treated for HIV/AIDS. One example is Faith Liyena, whose organization, Faith Orphans Fund, cares for over 3,500 children whose parents have died from HIV/AIDS. Alltech donates Sel-Plex for use in Faith's women's health project, which assists with support and counselling of HIV-affected families.
Alltech employs more than 1,700 people and has a presence in 85 countries across the globe. For more information about Jacques' trip to Africa, visit www.alltech.com/africablog and www.Sel-Plex.com.