UN emphasizes importance of nutritious food in HIV/AIDS treatment

An archive image of WFP beneficiaries in Southern Sudan

20 July 2010 – A simple yet nutritious diet can improve the effectiveness of treatment for people living with HIV/AIDS, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said today, urging health-care providers, governments and other partners to incorporate good nutrition in treatment regimens.

“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 two to six times higher compared to those who are receiving proper nourishment,” Mr. Bloem said during the AIDS 2010 conference in Vienna, a global gathering of experts on the disease.

WFP is the world’s largest provider of food support to people living with HIV and their families, as well as people with tuberculosis. The agency helped 2.9 million people affected by the two diseases in 47 countries last year.

According to the agency, HIV-positive children need between 50 to 100 per cent more calories, compared to HIV-negative children, while adults need up to 30 per cent more calories as the disease progresses.

WFP’s approach to HIV/AIDS focuses on two objectives – improving treatment success through nutritional and food support, and reducing the effects of AIDS on individuals and their families through sustainable safety nets such as household rations, cash transfers or vouchers that can be traded for food.


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