Southern Africa: Poverty Leaves 14 Million Hungry, Vulnerable to AIDS
January 22, 2003
Health ministers from the 14 countries in the Southern African Development Community met in Johannesburg, South Africa, to discuss the impact of malnutrition on people living with HIV/AIDS. The meeting, which ended on Tuesday, aimed to look at how nutritional supplements and immune boosters can be used to improve the health of people living with HIV/AIDS, and to find ways to increase the food security of people with the disease.Adapted from:
It is estimated that more than 30 million people across southern Africa are living with HIV/AIDS, and speakers at the meeting warned that the devastating impact of malnutrition on those with the disease could radically increase AIDS deaths.
UN officials called on SADC countries to boost their agricultural industries so they could provide the nutritional needs of people living with HIV/AIDS. They warned the disease is having a direct impact on food security and nutrition for thousands of SADC households, most of whom depend heavily on agricultural products such as vegetables and fruits for good health. They also warned that the epidemic was claiming the lives of agricultural workers -- the very people who should be fighting famine by producing food in their countries.
UNAIDS representative Bunmi Makinwa explained, "A person with HIV needs better nutrition -- more calories and more proteins -- to stay healthy." He also underlined that food assistance must go hand-in-hand with the use of HIV/AIDS drugs to improve the health of people living with the disease. "The goal should be prevention, care and treatment in synergy," said Makinwa.
Food inflation, which saw the prices of some staples double last year, pushed many poor South Africans to the brink of starvation, as high prices put their basic nutritional needs beyond their reach. About 4 million South Africans are estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS.
Inter Press Service
01.21.03; Anthony Stoppard
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.