Food and nutrition are critical to tackling HIV/AIDS. That’s why each December 1st, WFP joins the millions of voices raising awareness of World AIDS Day. World AIDS day is a day for people worldwide to show their support for those living with HIV/AIDS, celebrate the progress that has been made in the fight against the disease, and commemorate the 25 million who have died from the disease.
The fight against HIV/AIDS is one that takes place on many fronts, from research to health care, to social programs. As a member of UNAIDS – a collaborative initiative bringing together different UN agencies to tackle the challenge of HIV/AIDS -- WFP is responsible for integrating food and nutrition support into the HIV response for the world’s poorest. We play a critical role in stopping the deadly relationship between poor nutrition and HIV/AIDS by boosting the nutrition of those living with disease.
Our stories from the field highlight the incredible impact WFP food assistance can make in the lives of the nearly 2.5 million HIV+ people we reach every year. “When we help people living with HIV overcome hunger and malnutrition, we also help them to fight off illness and regain their health and strength,” Martin Bloem, WFP’s Chief of HIV and Nutrition policy, said. Boosting nutrition helps people with HIV/AIDS live longer, healthier lives in several ways. A full stomach can help HIV+ people regain their strength and stay on life-saving treatment. HIV treatments are tough on the stomach. Just ask Jairos, a young HIV+ man from Zimbabwe. “These tablets make me hungry and without food I can’t be cured,” he said. With WFP food assistance, Jairos can keep taking the life-saving drugs he needs and keep their harsh side effects to a minimum.
WFP food assistance also helps people living with HIV/AIDs overcome the dual burden of poverty and deteriorating health. Belaynish, a HIV+ mother from Ethiopia, used to struggle to put food on the table. After six months of WFP food assistance, she regained her strength and restarted HIV treatments. Now, two years later, she doesn’t need food support anymore and can sustain her family with her farming profits.
WFP assistance doesn’t just help those living with HIV/AIDS, it also helps prevent the disease from spreading. Through innovative partnerships, we are helping people stay healthy and AIDS free by boosting their AIDS awareness. Check out this video to see how WFP, together with TNT, is helping stop the spread of HIV/AIDS along Africa’s transport corridor.
Your efforts to fight HIV/AIDS and hunger can have a global impact, too. Take part by selling red ribbons on campus and helping people understand why fighting HIV/AIDS also means stopping hunger. By raising awareness of HIV/AIDS and hunger, you can help lead us one step closer to ending both. For more information about HIV/AIDS and Nutrition check out our Fact Sheet and Knowledge Center.