Since the start of the AIDS pandemic in the early 1980s, more than 25 million people have died from the disease. Some 34 million more are estimated to be living with the HIV virus, a number on the rise as the survival rate increases. Copyright: WFP/Vince Dewitt
World AIDS Day on December 1 marks ten years since WFP began providing specialised nutritional assistance to people suffering from the HIV virus. Ensuring that patients get the right nutrition and don’t have to choose between treatment and food is critical to winning the fight against the disease.
ROME – Ten years ago, while responding to a drought in southern Africa, WFP recognised that hunger was weakening the immune systems of people with the disease and getting in the way of their access to treatment.
In a region of the world devastated by the AIDS pandemic, WFP launched its first ever programme targeting the nutritional needs of people infected with the virus.
While providing patients with the nutrition they need to fight off the virus, these programmes also make sure that people with HIV don’t have to choose between treatment and food.
Today, WFP reaches more than 2.3 million people affected by HIV in 34 countries with targeted food and nutritional assistance. Here are three people who show how those programmes save lives.
The Crocodile Man
A crocodile handler in Zimbabwe, Langton Dzeka says his close call wasn’t with a reptile. In 2011, he found out that he was infected with the HIV virus and started losing weight. Today, he’s on the rebound and back at work with the crocs thanks to a programme that provided him with nutritious food. Read more
Thanks to the chicken farm she has built up in recent years, Pong Onn is now able to look after herself and her daughter. But she had to weather a series of crises after learning that she was HIV positive. She says that without support from WFP and a local Cambodian NGO she might well have died. Read more
The Business Woman
Khumbu Shiba, in Swaziland, has been HIV-positive for three years. At 60 years old, and with only a meagre pension to live on, things were tough to begin with. Food assistance has enabled her to regain her health and start a pig-rearing business. Read more
2012 World AIDS Day Report
WFP is one of 11 co-sponsors of UNAIDS, a UN Joint Programme that works to achieve universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support.