Articles Examine Effect of Food Insecurity, Poverty on HIV/AIDSPLoS Medicine recently published articles examining the relationship between HIV/AIDS and development issues, such as food insecurity and poverty. Summaries appear below.
- "Food Insufficiency is Associated With High-Risk Sexual Behavior Among Women in Botswana and Swaziland," PLoS Medicine: Sheri Weiser of Physicians for Human Rights and the University of California-San Francisco and colleagues examined the relationship between food insufficiency -- defined as not having enough food during the previous 12 months -- and risky sexual behavior, including inconsistent condom use and commercial sex work. The study was conducted among 1,255 adults in Botswana and 796 adults in Swaziland. The researchers found that 32% of women and 22% of men reported food insufficiency during the previous 12 months. In addition, among 1,050 women in both countries, food insufficiency was associated with inconsistent condom use with a nonprimary sex partner, according to the researchers. Food insufficiency is an important factor in increased risky sexual behavior among women in Botswana and Swaziland, the researchers wrote, concluding that targeted food assistance and income programs, as well as efforts to improve women's legal status and rights, are central to reducing the spread of HIV among women (Weiser et al., PLoS Medicine, October 2007).
A kaisernetwork.org interview with Weiser is available online.
- "Squaring the Circle: AIDS, Poverty and Human Development," PLoS Medicine: UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot, UNAIDS economics adviser Robert Greener and UNAIDS senior adviser and speechwriter Sarah Russell examine how HIV/AIDS often is at the center of a "vicious circle," in which the disease increases "poverty and social deprivation, while poverty and social deprivation increase vulnerability to HIV infection." The authors also examine the importance of distinguishing between the "downstream" effects of HIV/AIDS on poverty and the "upstream" effects of poverty on the risk of HIV. "Complex problems famously require complex solutions," the authors write, concluding, "In this case, it is crucial to place AIDS squarely at the center of all socioeconomic development" and to "provide long-term, high-level domestic and international investment in HIV prevention and treatment in the world's poorest countries" (Piot et al., PLoS Medicine, October 2007).