News / Africa

Food Security, HIV/AIDS Treatment and Prevention Closely Linked

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

To ensure food security for a rapidly growing global population, governments are investing heavily in agriculture.  But food policy experts say that investment must include HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.

HIV/AIDS and food have been inextricably linked from the time the pandemic began sweeping across the continent.

The disease struck the ranks of farmers hard, leaving the livelihoods of millions of people in jeopardy.  Before treatments were available, those infected with HIV knew that starvation would kill them quicker than the virus.  So, they demanded health workers give them food before agreeing to learn about safe sex.  Today, even for those receiving anti-retroviral treatment, food is essential to make that therapy effective.

For food security to be achieved in the coming years, experts say HIV/AIDS must be part of the plan.  That was the reason for a meeting this week in Cape Town, South Africa, where experts discussed a decade of work on HIV and nutrition security.

HIV, food and farms

Stuart Gillespie is director of RENEWAL, the Regional Network on AIDS, Livelihoods and Food Security, with hubs in southern African countries.

He says, “Originally, we looked at the ways in which HIV/AIDS may exacerbate food insecurity by the stress it places on the household, particularly the most productive household members.  And we have documented ways in which through labor shortages, through diversion of labor within the households, it affected the ability of households to actually engage in agriculture.  And agriculture itself is still the number one source of livelihood for most people affected by HIV on the planet.”

The effects of the pandemic on farmers can still be seen today.  Gillespie says it helped to create haves and have-nots.

“In some ways, HIV has made certain farmers actually richer.  They’ve been better able to buy off land from people who are desperate to sell because they’re in a situation of distress and they’re starting to sell off assets possibly due to AIDS, possibly due to AIDS plus other factors, like the food crisis.  So you see the interconnections,” he says.

HIV/AIDS also affected agricultural extension services, which provide farmers with support and technical expertise.

Gillespie says, “During a five-year period between 2002 and 2007 in both Malawi and Zambia, one in eight agricultural extension workers had actually died of HIV during that period.  And the quality of extension that was available due to these staff shortages, which were not made up, declined, significantly.  People weren’t able to do their jobs properly in agricultural extension.  Farmers were therefore not able to avail themselves to new technologies.”

High prices, food shortages

When the food crisis struck a few years ago, Gillespie says it had a detrimental effect on HIV/AIDS programs in Africa.

“We had documented it two years ago during the last food price hikes that these kind of dramatic rises in prices can significantly impact prevention issues, prevention strategies with HIV.  They can impact treatment, the ability of people to remain on drugs when they’re too hungry, when they cannot afford to buy food to meet the increased appetite they have [when] on the drugs.  And it will also affect mitigation because households are grappling with other financial and economic problems, as well as HIV,” he says.

He says people will stop taking anti-retroviral drugs if they can’t get enough to eat.  Food is necessary to help counter the side effects of the drugs.

“They need 30 percent extra calories alone on treatment.”

Gillespie is also a senior research fellow with IFPRI, the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington.  He says without food security, the progress made against HIV/AIDS may be lost.

“If people are stopping drugs because they are too hungry to take the drugs without feeling completely sick – if they’re stopping the drugs and compliance levels drop below 90 percent – we’re in a situation where the virus becomes resistant to the drugs.  And therefore, we need second line therapies or third line therapies, which are going to be a lot more expensive and even more difficult to resource in the current climate of austerity,” he says.

Food experts and HIV/AIDS organizations are joining forces to find ways of better integrating food security policies with HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.  That includes helping ensure the health of African farmers.

You May Like

Video Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had warned storm could be one of worst in city history More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid