Heifer Works to Bring Food to Those With HIV and AIDS
December 11, 2006
The scale-up of HIV drugs to patients in developing countries must be accompanied by proper nutrition in order for the medicines to work most effectively, the charity Heifer International said ahead of World AIDS. "People need milk, they need meat. Especially if they are on antiretroviral drugs," said Meghan MacKrell, HI's Central and Eastern European program assistant. That is because the drugs do not have the same strength in patients who are hungry.
For almost 60 years, Little Rock, Ark.-based HI has provided livestock and training to poor families across the world. The group offers HIV-affected families cows and other animals to raise for milk and other products in a bid to help stave off AIDS.
The animals are considered so important, said Kelly Doppelhammer, HI's East Africa program assistant, said that when parents fall ill from AIDS, other people often help care for the livestock. "What is happening is family members of the people who are dying and also neighbors are coming together and helping with the care of the animal," she said. "When someone is too sick to get up to feed the animal or milk it, the other people will come in from other families [including] other people with AIDS who are not as bedridden."
In Romania, farmers with HI cows have been providing milk, sour cream and veal to a children's hospital in the northwest city of Cluj, said Anca Oprita, an HI worker there. But while the government provides a stipend for people with HIV, anti-AIDS stigma there remains so strong that "A lot of the time, people don't want to go to the postal office to pick up that money because they don't want to be on a list," Oprita said.
12.01.2006; Jon Gambrell