VIENNA – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is urging health care providers, governments and other partners to include a simple, yet vital, ingredient in the treatment of people living with HIV - good nutrition.
“There is a growing body of evidence that food and nutritional support are essential for keeping people living with HIV healthy for longer and for improving the effectiveness of treatment,” said Martin Bloem, WFP’s head of Nutrition and HIV.
“If people don’t have access to food, it is hard to take antiretroviral drugs and the risk of going off the treatment rises. Among malnourished patients that start antiretroviral therapy (ART), the risk of death is 2-6 times higher compared to those who are receiving proper nourishment,” Bloem said during the AIDS 2010 conference in Vienna.
WFP is the world’s largest provider of food support to people living with HIV and their families, as well as people with tuberculosis, helping 2.9 million people in 47 countries last year.
People living with HIV need more calories to help fight the virus. HIV-positive children need between 50 to 100 percent more calories, compared to HIV-negative children, while adults need up to 30 percent more calories as the disease progresses.
WFP’s approach focuses on two objectives : improving clients’ treatment success through nutritional and food support, and reducing the effects of AIDS on indivuduals and their families through sustainable safety nets such as household rations, cash transfers or vouchers that can be traded for food.
Get the facts:
Find out more about the importance of nutrition to the fight against HIV/AIDS by downloading these fact sheets: