Food Insecurity, Spread of HIV Linked, Expert Says
People who are "extremely poor or food insecure" are more likely to contract HIV than other people because of "what they have to do to find income or work," Stuart Gillespie, senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute, said in a recent interview, VOA News reports. According to experts, poverty and hunger often can cause people to engage in high-risk sexual behavior to earn money for food, VOA News reports. In addition, "malnourished" people are more likely to contract HIV during unprotected sex, Gillespie said. According to Gillespie, there is a further "link" between HIV and malnutrition as the HIV/AIDS pandemic is "precipitating or exacerbating food insecurity at the household level." In order to end this cycle, he recommends that "nutritional support" be linked with antiretroviral drug supply to improve the efficacy of the drugs and reduce possible side effects. "[T]he No. 1 primary concern we're seeing over and over again" is the need of families with HIV-positive adults to "get back on [their] feet and not have to worry about getting food," Gillespie said. He said that IFPRI is working with agricultural and social development ministries to "mainstrea[m]" HIV/AIDS awareness (De Capua, VOA News, 8/2). Gillespie recently released a related IFPRI report called, "AIDS, Poverty, and Hunger: Challenges and Responses" (IFPRI Web site, 8/3). He is scheduled to speak this month at the XVI International AIDS Conference in Toronto, where links between malnutrition and HIV/AIDS will be one of the topics addressed (VOA News, 8/2).
VOA News reporter Joe De Capua on Tuesday interviewed Gillespie. The interview is available online in QuickTime.
The XVI International AIDS Conference program is available online.