The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) says it is grateful for a US$13.4 million contribution from the United States government to support people living with HIV, AIDS and TB in Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
The contribution comes from the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), through the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The funds will be used to provide specialized nutritious foods for the prevention and treatment of malnutrition among nearly 190,000 children and people living with HIV or tuberculosis (TB). They will also benefit some 36,000 food-insecure households and families hosting orphaned and vulnerable children.
“The contribution from PEPFAR comes at a time when we’re already seeing an alarming deterioration in food security as well as in the nutritional status of people living with HIV and in HIV-affected households,” says Rose Craigue, WFP Senior Regional Advisor for Nutrition & HIV for Southern Africa. “This support will enable WFP to scale up its programmes, reaching more people in need of assistance.”
The 2015/2016 El Niño event with its devastating drought affected countries that carry the highest burden of HIV in Southern Africa. The five countries targeted for PEPFAR support have HIV prevalence rates of between 10 and 26 percent.
People living with HIV or TB are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity and malnutrition. The antiretroviral medication they take is less effective unless combined with good nutrition. And when they do not have enough to eat, they are less likely to adhere to their treatment. This can lead to increased viral load, opportunistic infections and progression of the disease. Moreover, food insecurity has been found to increase gender-based violence and force people to engage in behavior such as transactional sex, which in turn makes them more vulnerable to HIV infection, says Claudia Altoria, the communications lead at WFP in Johannesburg.
(Picture: an artist wails and sings at a TB test and prevention public meeting organized by Swaziland health ministry in Mbabane)
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