Various United Nations agencies are meeting today and tomorrow in Johannesburg to look at the link between the southern Africa food crisis and the AIDS pandemic. Millions of people in six southern African countries are facing severe food shortages at a time when many people have already been weakened by HIV/AIDS.
Jennifer Abrahamson, a spokesperson for the World Food Program, is attending the meeting in Johannesburg and spoke to VOA English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua. She agreed with assessments that this is the first time a food crisis has been linked to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
She says, “What we’re seeing here are the highest rates of HIV infections in the world. We have a vicious cycle that has been ongoing in southern Africa.” She says, “While the hunger crisis has been exacerbated by HIV/AIDS, HIV/AIDS has been exacerbated by hunger.”
Ms. Abrahamson says the WFP is looking at changing food allocations to address the changing family dynamics brought on by the pandemic. For example, she says, many families in Africa now consist only of grandparents and children, the parents having died from the disease.