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WFP, UNAIDS Work to Improve Nutritional Support Available for People Living With HIV/AIDS

December 9, 2010

The World Food Program (WFP), with the support of UNAIDS, is planning to launch "a new policy to make food and nutritional support more available to people living with HIV," VOA News reports. The agency "says the aim of [the] program is to help patients stick to their treatment, while protecting their households from further vulnerability," the news service adds.

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In addition to the critical role antiretrovirals (ARVs) play in the health outcomes of patients living with HIV/AIDS, the WFP "argues anti-retroviral therapy alone is not enough to keep people healthy and alive. WFP's head of Nutrition and HIV, Martin Bloem says food and nutritional support are vital components of this medical treatment," the news service writes. Bloem described the challenges HIV/AIDS patients can experience on ARVs when they lack access to food, including side effects from the drugs and difficulty gaining weight.

VOA News summarizes the WFP's new policy outlined by Bloem, noting the policy will work to provide patients living with HIV/AIDS with "adequate nutrition to make their treatment as effective as possible."

"The purpose in the first couple of weeks and months is to make the person as healthy as possible," Bloem said. "So, you need what we call the most nutrient dense food affordable and available for people who are adults. At this particular moment, we do not have those particular products. So, what we have done is to look into the products, which are available now for children who are severely malnourished. And, those products are available for us to give to adults," he explained.

Additionally, the news service notes the policy will "provide social safety nets to households of people who have HIV. Under the plan, these families may receive food rations, cash transfers or vouchers that would allow them to purchase food at local markets" (Schlein, 12/8).

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