Food Scarcity and HIV Interwoven in Uganda
December 31, 2007
A study that is a collaboration between the University of California-San Francisco and the Mbarara University of Science and Technology is assessing what HIV patients eat, how much food they have, whether they grow or buy it and whether medications' side effects are worse if the pills are taken on an empty stomach. The study will also follow HIV patients for two years to monitor how food insecurity, the persistent difficulty of finding enough to eat, affects their drug regimens, illness, and death rates.
While Western donors have helped increase the distribution of antiretroviral drugs in sub-Saharan Africa, they have done little to make sure recipients have enough food or are not forced to choose between paying for transportation to the clinic and feeding their children. Studies such as the current one seek to demonstrate that packaging food with HIV drugs or reimbursing patients for travel expenses can improve health and save lives. The study also seeks to determine whether hunger forces women to offer men "live sex," without condoms, in exchange for food or money.
Uganda has reduced HIV rates from adult prevalence of 15 percent in 1991 to just below 7 percent in 2005.
About two-thirds of the clinic's patients in Mbarara are women, victims of what anthropologists call "structural violence," the social, cultural, and legal constraints that can rob them of control over their own and their children's lives.
New York Times
12.25.2007; David Tuller
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.