Haiti: Protecting People Living with HIV/AIDS, One Bag of Rice at a Time

Many people living with HIV/AIDS worldwide are not able to get enough to eat. Health complications mean that many lose their jobs and their livelihoods are threatened. In Haiti, WFP plays a crucial role in protecting patients being treated for HIV/AIDS and their families by ensuring that the food they receive contributes to their health, safety and dignity.  

Gonaives- Every day is a busy day at the Hôpital de la Providence des Gonaives- one of the larger facilities in the populous and poor Artibonite region in the centre of Haiti. This hospital is also one of many across the country where HIV/AIDS patients receive 50 kg of take home family rations from WFP to keep themselves and their families fed and healthy as they begin antiretroviral treatment. 

Among the flocks of patients and family members lined up outside clinic doors to receive medicine and test results, the coordinator of a hospital patient group is examining a workbook outside the stock room that contains the carefully handwritten names of all the patients who will receive food rations that day. A patient himself, he talks animatedly about the group that he works with and the benefits of the take-home family food rations. "Beginning the treatment can be difficult and the food provided by WFP means that the medicine will work more effectively. Not having to worry about providing for your family during this time is also crucial. It makes a huge difference to us", he says.

The number of people living with HIV/AIDS in Haiti is around 220.000 with the highest prevalence among women. In a population of just a little over 10 million this means that more than 2 people in every 100 are living with the HIV/AIDS and even more are indirectly affected by it. 

WFP gives take home rations to help people undergoing HIV/AIDS treatment improve their health but also to protect their dignity and their families. 

Access to proper nourishment is essential to increasing the effectiveness of anti-retroviral treatment. People living with HIV need more calories and nutrients in their diet because of their weakened immune systems and access to proper nourishment is essential to increasing the effectiveness of anti-retroviral treatment.

Side effects from the treatment can make it difficult and in some cases impossible to earn a living, which means that entire families can go hungry. Concern about providing for children, husbands or wives might lead to people foregoing the treatment to try and work or sell off their assets. 

WFP provided food rations to 12.450 patients and their families in 2013. Over the next three years WFP is planning to assist 180.000 HIV/AIDS patients and their families in Haiti. As an entirely self-funded organization, WFP relies on the generous support of its donors to make sure that people living with HIV do not have to choose between their family and their health. 

If you would like more information about WFP's work with HIV/AIDS click here