Food insecurity and HIV prevalence are closely connected, forming a vicious cycle. There is a significant correlation between countries with high HIV prevalence and high food insecurity.
Food and nutrition assistance for people living with HIV support treatment outcomes through two key mechanisms:
- Food and nutrition activities facilitate nutritional stabilization and recovery, resulting in increased immune system strength, increased treatment effectiveness and faster weight gain. Mortality is three to five times higher for people living with HIV who begin treatment when they are malnourished than for those who are not malnourished.
- Food and nutrition activities also support access and adherence to treatment. By providing food and nutrition support to members of the community, health centres are able to reach more individuals, leading to increased case detection, better treatment uptake and greater treatment adherence.
Support can include food rations to malnourished people living with HIV and their households as well as nutritional assessments, education and counselling to provide long-term solutions to food insecurity and malnutrition.