Burundi’s Food Shortages Create Challenges for People Living With HIV/AIDS
People living with HIV/AIDS in Burundi often face the additional challenge of fighting the disease without proper nutrition because of a widespread food shortage in the country, IRIN/PlusNews reports.
Jean Rirangira, interim executive secretary of the national AIDS Control Council, said, "When assessing the needs of people living with HIV in the country, we find that food is an enormous problem." The United Nations World Food Programme reports that 19% of Burundi's population has food security, and rising food prices in addition to low levels of food production leave as many as 46% of residents malnourished, IRIN/Plus News reports.
Although WFP in 2008 reversed a 2006 decision to cut special HIV/AIDS food programs, non-governmental organizations are calling for increased funding for HIV-positive people and their families. Jeanne Gapiya -- founder of the Association Nationale de Soutien Aux Seropositifs et Sideens, which provides support to 3,200 Burundi families -- said, "At our center, we try to provide support to the entire family, because the person with HIV is not the only one facing food shortages. If it is an HIV-positive woman, she will usually feed her children first and remain with nothing herself." According to Gapiya, her organization, WFP and the government are in talks to develop methods of providing more food to families affected by HIV.
The Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria recently approved Burundi's proposal for $150 million in funding. According to Rirangira, people living with HIV/AIDS and others affected by the disease -- including orphans and vulnerable children -- will be a priority for the country (IRIN/Plus News, 11/11).